My Ultimate Dad Moment

Jack and His Monster Truck Obstacle Course

It was Father Heaven for me yesterday. I came back to Enid after a wonderful Feast of Pentecost Eucharist at Grace and was in the backyard getting the grill ready for some kabobs. Jack came out, grabbed a tennis ball, and said, “Hey Dad! Want to play catch with me?”

Excellent. We threw the ball back and forth for a while. Jack was throwing and catching really well, but every once in a while threw a wild one. We were having fun, and then it got better.

“Dad, we should talk about stuff.”

I smiled. “What do you want to talk about? Girls?”

“Girls? Really?”

“Yep. Really.” He caught the ball with two hands and tossed it back to me. “You like girls, don’t you?”

I think he blushed a little and missed the ball. He ran to pick it up and tossed it back over my head. “Sure. I like girls. You know. I like Mommy. And Erin.” Jack smiled again. Erin is his friend from Church. Her brother is our godsend. He is going to marry Erin someday, he had told us. He’d told that to Erin too, and she agreed.

“That’s good,” I said. I tossed the ball back and he caught it again.

“Maybe we can talk about stuff like we did that one day. About cars and motors and stuff.”

“You want to talk about motors? Transmissions?”

“Yeah. About cars and how they work. Like how they turn, Dad.”

He had started asking questions about cars one day on the way to school, and I described how the internal combustion engine worked, how the pistons moved, turning the shaft and all that. It had been weeks ago, but he remembered. So did I.

We didn’t get much of a chance to talk about power trains and transfer cases. Nor head gaskets or cams. Not long after that our friends arrived and the grill was ready, and the car-talk had to wait.

But I have a boy who played catch with his dad, who wanted to talk guy talk, and it was heaven. Simply heaven

Marketing not Marketing?

We are just beginning to make a new video for Grace Lutheran Church. Since the last round of videos, Pr. Tiews was ordained as Associate Pastor, I was installed as the new Senior Pastor, some faces have changed and more.

In thinking about a new video for the home page, I watched the previous one, called “Stability.”  One of the comments at Youtube jumped out at me, and it’s pretty perceptive. AlveusLacuna wrote, “If this church isn’t marketing like the other churches, then why is there a commercial? Isn’t it’s traditionalism a kind of marketing angle, at least as it’s presented here?”

We don’t market to you, we said in our marketing video. What irony. What emptiness. What lack of perception and insight.

At least at first blush, that’s what you’ve got. These consumerist churches out there marketing themselves, all flash and image and having a product and selling it–SELLING IT, BABY! and here Grace is just marketing something different. Same techniques, just a different flavor. Some friends of mine have criticized the Antiochian Orthodox Church for doing the same, marketing themselves as the traditional alternative.

But there is a great difference between marketing a product or a church and evangelism. There is a difference between the consumerist churches and their techniques and getting the word out, even if the video is well-produced and slick video. Consumerist churches market everything. They market themselves in advertising and web pages and youtube videos. But they also market the worship and the doctrine to appeal to their demographic. They are only marketing–nothing else. They are only providing the content that appeals to people’s natures–sometimes their basest natures.

Evangelism is getting the word out. Going and telling who we are and who Christ is. It is Philip going to Nathaniel and saying, “, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  (John 1:43 ESV). It is Paul preaching at the Areopagus where all could hear him. Posting a video is not much different than that, friends. And more: Luther printed tracts in the vernacular. Translating the Bible and putting it in stores in Sixteenth Century Germany.

Making videos, putting up signs, having professional webpages, brochures and radio shows amount to getting the word out, crying out in the wilderness, preaching in the Temple Courts. We show what we are and who we are in Christ. We show people our tradition, our heritage. We do not do market studies to change our worship and doctrine and life in order to appeal. Christ and His forgiveness is the appeal, is the “attraction.”

So we’re going to make a nice video for our webpage. To get the word out that we don’t market the message, that we don’t entertain and appeal to your consumerist urges and base passions. No, we worship as the Church worships. We worship as Luther and the Reformers worshiped, saying the Prayers and the Liturgy Justin Martyr attested to, that the First Century Didache described, that the martyrs and saints of thousands of years prayed and lived and died for.

That’s what we do.

Brown Shoes and No Connections

For so much going wrong today, it went quite well.

First, when getting ready this morning I realized I didn’t have my black belt. Left it in Enid. No worries, I thought. I have my suit coat and I didn’t need a belt. But then I realized I’d left my dress shoes in Enid too. And my other pair of black dress shoes. That is not good. So I had to offend the sensibilities of Dr. James Brauer and wear brown pants and brown, unpolished shoes. Sigh. At least it was my second Sunday and not my first.

But wait! It gets better!

I wanted to do my, medicore powerpoint presentation at Bible Study. Grace has nice screen that drops out of the ceiling like Moses coming down from the mou

I don’t have a VGA output on my laptop. ntain (it’s in Knippa Hall, the fellowship hall—I don’t think I’ll ever have a fellowship hall named after me: just listen to it). It came down on cue, and I brought the VGA connection over from the sound center.

And the slides I asked my secretary to photocopy were the wrong ones. My fault, not hers. She did exactly what I told her to do.

But Christ is above all, and we managed. And no one deducted a grade for my brown pants and shoes. And we celebrated the Eucharist with devotion and joy. That is enough for one day.


Trying New Stuff on the Blog

It’s time for a bit of a makeover ’round these parts. Time to update the header image, some of the pages. Time to fix the dumb publish to Facebook plugin which didn’t work quite right. Maybe even change the name.

This post is debuting the new Facebook plugin. Hopefully it will work more consistently than the old one. It will also take your comments from FB and put them here, and those here and put them there.

Be looking for more tweaks and adjustments later on.

Every Knee Shall Bow

I am a genuflecter now. I’ve seen it done, heard the gossip when Professor Feuerhahn disappeared behind the freestanding altar at Concordia Seminary, and now do it myself. The Words were spoken, and I dropped to my knees. It’s very Evangelical. It’s very biblical. It’s very Bible-based as our neighbors might say.

The words of Christ, the Presence of Christ, and I dropped to my knee and paused.

In the LCMS there is not much of a tradition of kneeling at the Words of Institution. Not the congregation, not the pastors. We do kneel to receive the Lord’s Body and Blood in most places. We kneel for prayer at other places. Sometimes the wedding couple kneels. But not for the Verba, not for the Words of Christ.

But now I do. I’m a genuflecter.

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church has the tradition, and I’ve embraced it. I’m a genuflecter. I was the Presiding Minister on this Sixth Sunday of Easter and after the words, “Do this in remembrance of me,” I elevated the host and then fell on my knees. I did the same after the cup was blessed with the words of Christ.

I didn’t genuflect before coming to this place. I only knelt when receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord. A pastor doesn’t have to genuflect. But it made a difference. It felt different. Respectful. Fearful. Like the earth in its course was pausing and there I was before Christ, hidden in bread and wine and I didn’t want to get up. But I had to work to do. Christ wants His gifts spread out and spread around, so I rose to do it.It’s very Evangelical and Biblical. Bible-based, as our Bible church neighbors would say. Well, they may not recognize it as such, but it is. “So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phi 2:10-11 ESV)” In fact it’s even more than that. Not only do I kneel at the name and presence of Jesus, but the congregation may fulfill the second part of that passage. There’s a custom when the Pastor elevates the host and the cup for the faithful to quietly say, “My Lord and My God.” There’s that confession with the tongue. Yes, it’s all right out of scripture if you have eyes to see it.

Quick Update

So I’m now the Senior Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church. I was installed on Sunday, May 6 and was blessed by having a full pews and 20 pastors from the district participating. Grace really knows how to through a reception, too.

Then I hit the ground running, and it has been exciting and fulfilling. It was a whirlwind of a week, added to being away from the family. I can’t wait for their school to get out and the house sold so they can move up there with me.

Next week I hope to carve out some time to do some writing here, and start some other projects that have been stewing for some time…and even as I write this I realize how ambitious and impractical that will be. I should be happy with a few blog posts.

Here’s a photo or two of the new place: