“And if you ask, ‘Who is Amos or Abdias, or what is the number of the Prophets or Apostles?’ they cannot even open their mouths. But with regard to the horses or charioteers, they can compose a discourse more clever than the sophists or rhetors.” (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of St. John, LVIII).
I referenced this in my sermon on Sunday, Within the Octave of All Saint’s Day. I followed with the question, “Can you name the Twelve Tribes of Israel? Can you name the nine of the Cubs who won the World Series? Or 12 of the actors in your favorite movie?”
Pastors preach to themselves. Yes, I can name the 12 tribes…at least on a good day (frankly it is something I’ve been refreshing myself on as I read Genesis this month), but we still preach to ourselves. So we all look to our weaknesses and strengths. Knowing the Scriptures is pretty basic. Learning who the saints are is good.
In my vocation, I know the Scriptures, have a vocational, and avocational interest in the Saints, but I don’t remember and know Hebrew like I once did or should. So that’s my intent. I’m going back to basics, and by next year hope to be reading Hebrew at least as well as I do Greek, maybe better.
The blog went missing when I changed the hosting account I have for another project (marching band photography: Chris Hall Photography Who knew, right? This weekend I’ll have my first major event to photograph, but for now it’s just Union High School’s Bands Program).
I did some creative interneting and it’s back. I’m missing posts from the last 2 or 3 years, which would be a catastrophe if this were a proper blog. In truth, it’s only a dozen or so posts gone, if that.
For the ten of you who are still reading, don’t hyperventilate–posts may be just as infrequent now as they ever were. Who knows?
Fr. Stephen Freeman and Glory to God for All Things, writes:
…Dostoevsky is correct that God and the devil engage in warfare and the battleground is the human heart. However, the battle is often fought in very small skirmishes. Brief encounters with the good and brief encounters with evil.
It is not true that the little things do not matter. It may well be that the little things are all we will ever encounter. It is true in every great battle. The historians write about large movements of troops and the effect of terrain – but those who actually do the fighting are aware of each stroke of the sword, of the difficulty of fighting wounded, or without food or rest.
By the same token, those who take up their prayers and beg for the mercy of God, may appear to be engaged in a very small thing. Yet prayer is never small. If it has gained the ear of the God of the universe, how can it ever be small?
No act of kindness is ever too small. No generosity of spirit is ever insignificant. No harsh word not spoken is a minor act of restraint. No effort of forgiveness is without value….
I am trying to NOT make this all about me, but I want to share a few things that have happened this week.
Sunday was great. I baptized two children and confirmed three more at the 10:30 service. The funeral luncheon for Bob Graf took place immediately after. Then the funeral at 2:00, one of the most crowded funerals I have ever seen. He was interred in a country cemetery. Back at home, I dozed for twenty minutes, ate a ham sandwich for supper, went back to church to open it up for the deceased family members, who needed a place to visit and eat before they all went their separate directions. Then I went home to crash.
But it was not to be. The phone rang. A member was in ICU, not expected to survive the night. Glory to God, he did. Yesterday another member landed in the ICU with heart problems. At lunch I received word that a third member had unexpectedly passed away–Joan Thomas. I met with their family yesterday aftenoon. This morning I attended Joe, whose heart cath revealed the need for bypass surgery. I prayed with him before they took him to the OR.
I’ve never had a Lent like this, but it certainly is keeping me out of trouble. Pray for Everett, Joe and the Family of Joan (and her, if that is according to your faith).
The second issue with conversion: so many who leave seem to be saying, “The LCMS is not Lutheran enough…so I’m becoming Orthodox (or Catholic).” The modus operandi of many of those who leave is unflagging criticism of the LCMS followed by unflagging praise for their new communion. It doesn’t make much sense.
But there is something else going on here: crisis. Something overturns the apple cart and it gets these pastors thinking. Something forces these pastors to wonder if the struggle is not lost, if the LCMS is something other than it says it is. Often the sacramental and worship life or practice in the LCMS serves as the tipping point. They realize that the LCMS does not do what it says Lutheranism says it does. This brings them to question not only what we don’t do and why, but also the claims of the Confessions themselves. When that doubt strikes, the reaction is unpredictable.
What strikes me about this is that the Contemporary Worship-pop consumerist pastors in our Synod have done the same thing, but as stated below, haven’t left. They found something lacking in the LCMS and began asking their own questions about the true nature of our Confession and ontology. But when their search led them in the opposite liturgical direction, they stay and transform their parishes, sometimes completely.
Pr. Ben Harju has resigned the clergy roster and will be received as a catechumen in the Orthodox Church tomorrow. Old news by internet standards–Ben announced it yesterday.
But the vitriol, angst, incredulity, accusations and so forth has already begun.
I’ve blogged about some others who have left the LCMS before. See these posts. What I’ve said before hold true here as well. God bless him for the courage to follow his convictions…and not try to make the LCMS into something it’s not.
There are a couple of issues I’d like to explore. The first is, Why East? Why are so many leaving the LCMS and entering the Orthodox Church? I can name a dozen or more who have in the last four or five years. Maybe more. Granted, in a denomination of 8000 or 9000 pastors, that number is a pittance, yet there seems a trend.
Yet, how many LCMS pastors have become Baptists (I know of one)? How many non-denominational Evangelicals? Methodist? Episcopal? (I know of one).
Few, I imagine. And here’s why. Because of our lack of oversight, integrity, honesty, support and standards, you can become almost any of those in all but name and stay within the LCMS. Some of them a pastor can “convert to” completely and be featured in the official newspaper and magazine and praised. Consider the “Emergent LCMS” churches in the St. Louis area.
Drove to Edmond today to shop at Sam’s Club. We had a nice time–it was good for M and I to get out of the house and have some time to talk. That doesn’t happen often enough.
I’m also working on a major renovation/redesign/move (?) of the blog. Again. Why can’t I leave well-enough alone? Distractions. See this post.
This week I finished sermons for Palm Sunday, the funeral, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter morning. Tomorrow I meet with the confirmands at 9:00, a pre-baptism meeting with a family at 10:00, the church garage sale, soccer games in the afternoon. Sunday is worship, confirmation presentation/reception, the second service with a baptism and confirmation, then a funeral meal, Bob Graf’s funeral, then…bed. Or at least it should feel like it.
Shut-ins to visit next week, and Holy Week services, but not too many other items on the to-do list. I like to have all in-office work done before Holy Week, so that I can spend my time seeing people, preparing for worship, and in devotional reading.
On NPR yesterday I heard the Culture Minister of France extolling President Obama’s intelligence, patronage of the arts and culture, and general liberal artiness. At the time of the election I heard other comments of how Obama will be good for the arts and culture of the United States. That would be a good thing. We pray in one of our collects for the fomenting of the cultural arts.
So why does the President give such insipid gifts? Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave our President a pen holder made from timbers of the anti-slave ship HMS Gannet, and a first edition biography of W. Churchhill. Obama gave him some DVDs…which were not compatible with European DVD players. When the President met the Queen of England, he gave her an iPod.
In all fairness, I would have no idea what to get a Queen. It’s hard enough buying something for my mother, or my father who buys himself whatever he wants. But I’m pretty sure if I were a cultured man, a patron of the arts, I wouldn’t get Her Majesty a gift befitting a teenager.
As you read this blog, Mr. President, I urge you to get better protocol advisors. We expect such boorish gifts from clueless Republicans; not from a cultured, sensitive Democrat. Seriously.
NEW YORK – Drugstore operator Walgreens will offer free clinic visits to the unemployed and uninsured for the rest of the year, providing tests and routine treatment for minor ailments through its walk-in clinics — though patients will still pay for precriptions. (read more here)
Much of the time that I hear about health care reform, I get nervous. This is a fantastic example of how it should be done–corporations actually working to help people, instead of only looking at the bottom line.