(The) Who will fix our Synod

Many of the LCMS blogs these days–at least the ones I read–are posting about the upcoming LCMS Convention this summer, and posting a lot about it. It is the topic du jour. It always is.

But not here. At least, not so much. It is true the LCMS is in a world of hurt, at least when it comes to financial operations, unity in doctrine and practice and unity of purpose. It’s gotten so bad that I have to fight off an inward cringe when I have members who tell me, “I visited and LCMS when I was on vacation, and they…” Almost inevitably, they continue by saying something that sounds more Consumerist Mega-Church Metho-bapti-costal than anything Lutheran.

Well now. So we should all be concerned with what is happening at the Convention, then. Shouldn’t we?

Not necessarily. We may get a new Synodical President. We may pass major structure changes. But what will that change? Will a new president give us what we are lacking? Will keeping the president bring further division?

With all due respect to our current President and all nominees, I think (again) the Who sums it up best (listen to the last two lyrics)

Scary Stuff at the Tea Party

Completely quoting re-posting from Christopher Orr:

According to John at Notes from a Common-place Book, the Tea Party group Grassroots America – We the People recently held an event headlined by Glenn Beck. At this event he asked:

  • “Do you believe this is God’s land?”;
  • “Do you believe our Constitution was divinely inspired?”;

and he also noted that

  • “the American flag is a symbol of God’s Freedom.”

Theologically, not just politically, no.

No.

Read the comments there too.

Journal: April’s End

We had a good weekend. Busy, busy, but good.

Saturday we went Downtown and participated in the March of Dimes, pulling Jack in the wagon for four miles. It was good exercise and good times with friends and the kiddos. We missed a soccer game, but Marjorie took the kids to Skatetown for an hour while Liv attended a birthday party at the same time. I ran the “strategic ministry update” meeting at church. Not many made it, but we had a good cross-section of the congregation there and accomplished a lot in terms of review and refreshing what our priorities are. Many good ideas–and many ideas we can actually accomplish, too!

Sunday was delightfully low-key. We had a friend from church over for burgers in the afternoon. His wife works some weekends, so he would have been home alone with a 2 and 6 month old. We grilled the burgers on my new-ish barrel-style charcoal grill I got a few weeks ago. I had been using a gas grill until its guts fell apart and the cost of fixing it was $170 more than this new one cost.

Monday was low-key. I ran a few errands, considered cleaning the garage, but piddled and fiddled with other things instead. Not productive, but restful, and had some good quality time with Jack. We replanted a few house plants, and he planted some cabbage seeds. I also started a basil plant. Hope that it will take off this summer like it did last summer–love having fresh basil!

The remainder of this week is crazy. Marjorie is running all over the place with the Tri-State Music Festival. She’s accompanying a zillion kids. But she loves it and is really good at it. Thankfully my schedule is pretty light–no meetings at all this week…but plenty of visits and other things to accomplish.

It used to be Awesome, but now I Want…

A few weeks ago I changed my schedule to having Mondays off instead of Fridays. There are some good benefits to it: it makes the work week feel longer for some reason; Fridays are great days to get things done here at the office, where it is nice and quiet; people who need things usually wait until Tuesday or Wednesday to ask me, and with this schedule I have an extra week day to help them.

But I can already tell that the charm will wear off eventually. It will soon enough be like all things. Starting out a joy, then becoming something enjoyable, soon enough it becomes worn and comfortable, then the flaws appear and something new begins to hearken.

That fancy new phone?

That brand new car?

That cute new blouse?

That adorable girl?

Ouch. That’s the problem with our consumerist world, our commercialized everything. When everything in life is marketed and sold and advertised and customized and socialized and integrated and codified and economized and sexified, we treat everything as objects and commodities. We have to. We are trained to by every commercial, by every billboard and sign, by every product review there is, for our whole lives. Divorce? Not divorce, more like thrift-shop, like trading-in. Like getting Wife 3G or 2.0, or 3D.

Worship? Yep. Give me my radio station, my style, my interest, my market, whether it’s cowboy or rock or ancient or ancient-modern or future or contemporary. Some justify it and say they are meeting people where they are, that Paul becomes all things to all people. That’s true enough when talking about evangelism, when going to the low places with people, when bringing the Good News to where they need it. It’s true enough in welcoming the dark-skinned, the tattooed, the upscale and lowscale into the arms of the Gospel.

But we do not cater to them…or to us. God loves all, but changes all. When St. Paul began his dialogue with the Athenians speaking about their “Unknown God” he did not follow-up with a customized worship service that would be agreeable to their worship ways, to their style and preferences. All worshipped together, casting aside their preferences to worship as a church–together.

But even more to the point: I like Led Zeppelin. A lot. Also Wilco and alt-country. And Simon and Garfunkel. Why? Because they have been marketed to me in various ways through friends and society and sub-cultures and so forth. But God is above marketing, above consumerism, above commercialization, above my tastes and preferences, above it all. He is eternal, and His worship is not in styles and forms and marketed according to demographics and profiling. His worship is Spirit and Truth.

It would be in our best interests as 21st Century Christians to avoid all the commercialization we can, to pull the plug (or at least fast-forward through the commercials), to take a step back and see just how much we are being marketed to, that we may inoculate ourselves to its siren song of passion.

Confession, Respect and Faith

I had a great Confirmation class yesterday, teaching the kids about Confession and Absolution and especially private confession. They were fascinated by the idea that my daughter could confess anything to me as her pastor, and Dad would never mention it, speak of it…or even punish her for it. They were having some serious PK envy–probably the first time in their life.

One girl asked a very good question, though. She asked what would happen if she confessed to something and I thought less of her, or treated her differently after that. That is the exact fear most of us have when it comes to private confession–the fear that our secrets will be exposed.

I don’t know if it’s true for all pastors, but in the first place I explained to her that for some reason, I pretty much forget what people confess to me. It happens, I forgive them, and never really think of it again, at least in specific terms. It’s a gift of God, I think.

Second, there’s not much that pastors haven’t seen, heard or done themselves. When you have a realistic theology of sin and forgiveness, it’s pretty hard to shock us.

Third, the truth is I love it when people take their faith seriously enough to bother with it.  Ultimately, if you come and confess sins to me, I’ll end up thinking more of you and better of you than I ever did before; we will be closer spiritually and I will respect you for your faith and devotion and repentance.

I’ve toyed with scheduling regular hours for private confession before. Even been encouraged by a few parishioners to emphasize it. Perhaps it is time I followed-through?

Things I Do to Stay out of Trouble

Apparently my Easter sabbatical needs to be over. A couple of people I had no idea read this asked me what was happening here and when I would post again. I guess I have six readers instead of the four I thought I had.

But their remarks got me thinking about the blog. It’s gone through quite a few changes since I started it. From obscurity to almost-obscurity, from WordPress to Blogger and back to WordPress–and back to being a pretty quiet corner on the ‘net. For a time I was working hard to make it more popular, and it worked when I posted controversial things, but I found it juvenile to chase ratings and hits, so I stopped. Readers left, too. Ce la vie.

So where is it going now? What are my plans? I don’t know. I will keep it up, but I have to admit I have some other interests and projects that are taking precedence. Here they are:

1. I’m learning Photoshop. My goal with this is to get comfortable enough to design web layouts and templates with an eventual desire to revamp the church website (http://redeemer-enid.com) and then possibly this site. I’m also wanting to do some graphic design stuff for church with this–think pamphlets. Plus, I am working on drawing and painting a bit, and want to learn how to use it for that a little.

2. I’m learning CSS and HTML coding and such, so that I can take the design layouts and make them work. With the one above, it’s a right brain/left brain one-two punch. I like it.

3. Add to this the good things happening at church, with a number of young families becoming more active, a supportive group of elders, a Bible study class that I love and gives me great joy and all the ministry needs and opportunities that never go away.

4. In my personal life, I’m still working on my second novel, and have another one in the backroom, whispering to me to hurry up and finish this thriller and get back to her, cause she wants to show me some really cool things.  That one is a YA novel, a supernatural thriller, but I can barely right one at a time, so it is on hold. I’m getting pretty serious with this and hope that novel #3 or #4 will be ready to send out to agents. Maybe by the end of this year.

4. Marjorie and I have been doing handy-man jobs for rental houses and she’s dipping her feet into property management. That has been encouraging, giving me freedom to do repairs and simple remodeling without being seized by my perfectionism.

5. I’m still writing nonfiction on occasion.

That’s enough. Too much, really. Heading on a slightly new bearing professional and personally and working all this in to my vocation.

It’s good. I have hope. And it feels good to have some more creative outlets again. I ignored them and repressed them for far too long. In my new favorite prayer we ask our Lord to bless all industry and commerce, all useful arts and culture. That means all of us. And He does.

He is Risen!

I’ve been in a haze since Sunday afternoon. Even today I haven’t quite recovered. After dropping the kids off at school I caught myself thinking I was driving home to go back to bed. I didn’t; I’m here in my study–but this has been a hard Lent.

It’s not physical exhaustion I don’t think. It’s more spiritual. The Enemy has been attacking me more–I really noticed it during the triduum. Thanks be to God I recognized it for what it was. God is our sure defence, an ever present shield and fortress.

So I am out of words for now.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!