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Messages - FrPeters

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Your Turn / Re: 90% (!) Vote to Delay LCMS Convention Cycle
« on: February 18, 2021, 01:51:47 PM »
Secondly, what other "support" were or are you looking for?

I would appreciate not being called reckless, careless, or any one of the other descriptors, most of whom have been used on this forum at one point or another to describe our practice of keeping the doors open.  I do not feel nearly the frustration or fatigue over this on my parish level.  Maybe I am a lone voice on this forum and maybe I don't need to be here anymore but many have joined the chorus against anything but doing what the government says and being safe at all costs.  FWIW I don't believe that being safe at all costs is descriptive of Scripture, early Christianity, or those who have lived under greater trials than this pandemic has been.  So I will leave the conversation to the contribution leaders on this forum.  It was an experiment to come back anyway.

I think we should use the delay to rethink conventions. What is the purpose/goal of holding a convention? Can some of it be done more efficiently in some other way, and does some of it deserve more time or a different arrangement?

That is a great idea but we do have a constitution and bylaws and a procedure to follow to do just that.  In the end, it takes a full convention cycle to make such changes and every time even a four year schedule has been offered it has been voted down by the delegates in attendance.

It is true, most of the conventions are scripted and directed, top down, by those in charge.  There is little time left for substantive debate or careful consideration of the issues.  I am not blaming the DPs or SPs but that is exactly how it has become.  The heavy lifting is done in floor committees and the DPs and SPs control who is on floor committees so the outcome is not exactly a surprise.  What we do today is not exactly how conventions were envisioned by our forefathers and not exactly how they were done prior to the modern era.  It will take a mindset change to affect a new understanding of what a convention does or should do and how often it needs to meet to do it.  It will also take a change in the number of delegates and how they are selected.  All of these probably should be looked over and changes made but it would be hard to get a consensus or the overtures in place and a cohesive blueprint done by the next convention.  I am not saying that to discourage but so that everyone knows the steps in the process.

Your Turn / Re: 90% (!) Vote to Delay LCMS Convention Cycle
« on: February 18, 2021, 09:53:22 AM »
He has seemed quite fixated - along with the Synod's Board of Directors - on the importance of convention business in its own right including an indeterminate financial loss.

Peter gets me.  It is one more thing among many.  I am very wary of the glee with which our churches have replaced in person with online, with our willingness to submit to governing authorities when even the SCOTUS says the government cannot shut down worship, our acquiescence to the warnings of singing and chant, the difficulty we have had shutting down online Communion, and the suspicion accorded those who found ways to continue to have worship (look at the responses to the times when I have reported how we have handled worship and the dismissal of our practices as dangerous).  No it is not about the convention alone but this in conjunction with everything else.  The delay and those staying away from worship are not about precautions at all -- it is about the refusal to believe that with precautions, things can go on.  Again, Dave is quick to say that my position is reckless and unsafe.  Our parish was one that never closed, one of the 10% or more who had in person Easter worship (according to guidelines), and we have not been identified as a spreader by anyone.  In fact, more of those who stayed away came down with COVID than those who attend.  Yet there was little support for a parish like mine or the pastors who worked hard to make it happen and there is plenty of cover for those who felt the risk was too great to do anything in person.  Our church and its leaders have not exactly bent over backwards to acknowledge those who did not shut down.  At the same time, we vote 90% to delay and anyone who disagrees does not care about the suffering or the dying. 

Your Turn / Re: 90% (!) Vote to Delay LCMS Convention Cycle
« on: February 17, 2021, 10:13:10 PM »
The possibility of conventions being a spreader-type event was not zero.

You could say that about almost everything the Church does.  There is no zero, nothing is safe, everything has risk.

Your Turn / Re: Remote ashes???
« on: February 17, 2021, 03:15:49 PM »
But the question is surely relevant -- if not remote Word, remote Bible study, remote preaching, remote ashes, then why not Holy Communion?  We have learned in this pandemic to have everything delivered from soup to nuts to medicine to Sunday dinner, it is a hard lesson not to apply to the things of God's House.  We will be wrestling with this for a very long time -- including and especially those who do not see that virtual is by definition not real and that online is not a salutary substitute for much of anything to do with the church.

Your Turn / Re: 90% (!) Vote to Delay LCMS Convention Cycle
« on: February 17, 2021, 03:11:55 PM »
This is less about a convention decision than it is the spirit of the faithful and our conviction that what we do is the most important thing of all.

The decision to delay is a signal that either what we do there is not urgent or that the convention, like the business of the church in the parish, is not important enough to risk anything.  I never said this vote was alone or that it was singularly critical but it does show the mind of the church (or maybe just the clergy and district presidents).  That is what I was pointing to.  I point to the quote above.

There was a time when we thought that the business of the church included conventions and things of substance went on there.  Now, as the Concordias are falling one by one, income to support everything from missions to our national leadership is falling, we are still juggling divisions on whether Holy Communion can be virtual or done at home with video consecration (yes this is still going on) and we are divided as to whether we simply adhere to government commands to shut down or offer some resistance, perhaps a convention is more urgent than ever.

I did not and have not mentioned the breakdown (90 to 10) but others have.  I was addressing the synod as a whole.  As to the reckless vs safe dichotomy, if it is not safe for people to gather in most districts (200 or so delegates), then it must not be safe for congregations to gather in those numbers either.  I disagree with your estimation that it is not safe.  We are free to disagree here.

The 90% vote was about none of that.  It was about the option for delaying a convention cycle by one year.

But that vote did not take place in a vacuum.  It took place in an atmosphere of fear, fed by the media and politics, in the wake of government determination that in-person worship was neither safe nor essential, and with the encouragement of our leaders.  You know that this was not simply about delaying a convention a year but about the mood and mind of the church at large as we get ready to enter year two of this pandemic.

Though we have had ice and snow and more is expected today, we did not cancel services (we have a morning and an evening).  We tell everyone that there will be church and that if they are able to be there, we will be waiting for them.  30 braved the weather and roads and we have another service scheduled later.  It was also high touch with ashes and the Sacrament.

Your Turn / Re: 90% (!) Vote to Delay LCMS Convention Cycle
« on: February 17, 2021, 10:12:25 AM »
What matters does not take place in convention halls but at altars, fonts and pulpits.

Yet that is exactly the point of my post -- how the attitude to delay and the actions taken on the local level have, inadvertently perhaps, sent the same message.  Little more than 10% of LCMS congregations had in-person worship on Easter last year.  Some live still under great restraints with attendance limits.  Some have just now by SCOTUS ruling just begun having in-person worship again.  Some are still closed.  I will admit worship together around the Word and Table of the Lord is NOT safe but the reason it is not safe has little to do with COVID 19 and everything to do with what happens there as God meets us in His Word and Sacrament.  We have been complicit by our silence to those outside the Church who believe public assembly is not worth the cost.  But Christians have faced this threat at nearly ever age of the Church and refused to give in.  The Jews during the Nazi era had the choice to not circumcise their newborn baby boys and yet they decided that their safety lie in their faith more than anything else.  The same with the Christians who faced persecution and threat and lions.  Whether we admit it or not, the overall implied message of the Church under the pandemic has been that it is better to be safe than to be in the House of the Lord, for protecting and preserving this life are greater treasures than eternal life.  This will not be quickly forgotten by those in the pews, those who will not return to the pews, and those we hope to reach with the cross and empty tomb.  Long ago Jaroslav Pelikan said “If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen-nothing else matters.”  Those words should haunt us as we evaluate what we did and did not do as the Church living in a pandemic.

Also, though some may take my words as an indictment against the 90% who voted for the delay, I was speaking more to the Church overall and how it came down to this being considered the wise and safe choice.  My point is when did Christianity ever be viewed as safe or judged by the eyes of the world to be wise?

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”

We should rue the day when Christianity and the Church become safe in the minds of our people or the world.

Your Turn / Re: What is a narrative bulletin?
« on: February 17, 2021, 08:43:16 AM »
The hymnal is already narrative -- complete with Scripture references next to the parts of the liturgy both ordinary and propers.  St. John Wheaton and Pr Scott Bruzek have a wonderful bulletin that adds even more.

These may not be so appreciated by folks who know it but to those who have forgotten or are just learning, these references are most helpful in rooting the liturgy in the Word of God.

Your Turn / Re: 90% (!) Vote to Delay LCMS Convention Cycle
« on: February 17, 2021, 08:35:23 AM »
As you might imagine, I strongly disagree with the vote.  I believe it sounds a signal to the congregations and world that the business of the church is not that important, that it is non-essential as the governments claimed, and that fear always wins.  The reality is that states where things were shut down and those where things were open have no great difference in rate of infection or hospitalization.  Masked states had the same spikes as non-masked states and locales.  There is no evidence that distanced and responsible worship practices have contributed anything to the spread of the virus (I am not including those who ignore the virus and do what they want).  This is less about a convention decision than it is the spirit of the faithful and our conviction that what we do is the most important thing of all.  It is sort of like trying to be safe while applying ashes that remind us we are mortal.  The whole message of ashes is that life is not safe, not subject to this mortal existence alone, and that the life Christ has given to those marked for death is the most important life of all.  For what it is worth, a couple of my members asked me when our church became a wimp.  These are those who can remember times of real threat and sacrifice, world wars, depression, and terror beyond toilet paper shortages and rules on public association.  For them, they fear the church has given into the idea that your best life is now and whatever you do to protect and preserve this life is the most important thing of all.  Yes, moving the convention will cost us some bucks, perhaps as many as $1M, but the cost will be borne by the parishes of Synod who are already struggling financially and it could have funded a couple of missionaries or church plants for years.

Your Turn / Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« on: February 13, 2021, 09:23:02 AM »
Will God accommodate our preferences or change them in heaven so that they will be one?  For Him only. 

Your Turn / Re: Valpo mascot task force
« on: February 12, 2021, 12:11:52 PM »
The LCMS does not say we are the only ones who teach rightly but we are in fellowship only with those who do.  We don't even say that LCMS will endure forever.  But we do say that faith confessed in the Lutheran Confessions is true and will endure past human institutions and jurisdictions. 

To suggest that the ELCA has not deviated from the Confessions, from the faith of Luther and his cohorts, and openly adopted new doctrines not found in Scripture or taught in our Confessions is to ignore both what the ELCA has adopted (wherein they admit that such teachings are different from what Lutherans and Scripture was understood to say in all the time prior to their 2009 assembly) and why two new denominations were formed in response to its deviation from the faith once delivered to the saints.

Your Turn / Re: LifeStiteNews and Project Veritas
« on: February 12, 2021, 12:05:40 PM »
Then go build another platform.

Uh, they did and the thought police and speech patrol shut them down with the help of big business controlling the servers and access to the supposedly free and fair internet.

Your Turn / Re: LifeStiteNews and Project Veritas
« on: February 12, 2021, 09:14:29 AM »
The problem is not simply that Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc... censor what goes on their platforms, but they are the only platforms and they conspire against any platforms that would offer a different point of view or allow prohibited content on the major platforms.  You don't like one newspaper's point of view, you read another.  You don't like one news channel, you watch another.  You don't like ALPB, you go on LutherQuest (that last one was an attempt at humor).  But the businesses conspired to shut down Parler and any other competitors.  That is also the problem.

Your Turn / Re: Valpo mascot task force
« on: February 11, 2021, 08:03:19 PM »
There was a time when I was ready to fight to retain Valpo within the larger circle of LCMS schools.  After that video, I am ready to renounce all claims.  That was a joke and an offense to a real university and real education.  Sure, there was the obligatory nod toward values and faith -- whatever faith means since Lutheran was not mentioned.  There was the obligatory research to find something objectionable to justify the retirement -- the lame association with a KKK paper.  And then there was the ridiculous idea that somehow this mattered to the school's identity, mission, and legacy.  Really?  It matters only to those who want it to matter -- those with a liberal agenda.  It does not matter to anyone else.  Welcome to cancel culture university edition.

Your Turn / Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« on: February 10, 2021, 09:35:32 AM »
Everyone would surely agree that the dying congregation taking care of its remaining members is not optimal and may even be doing some harm to the overall mission of the faith, but most of these are in urban settings or rural settings where, frankly, districts don't have the money to plant and subsidize anything.  And our polity prevents the district from shutting them down.  If they can find somebody to serve them, what can we do about it?  The power here is the power of persuasion but if persuasion does not prevail, what "punishment" can the district or synod apply?

There may be another component to this in cases where the dying congregation is near other congregations and a case could be made that one strong congregation is better than several at death's door.  But in our polity, they make the decision to unite.  All we can do is persuade.

There may also be another component.  I have seen in a few instances where the small congregation is the one that uses the hymnal and Lutheran liturgical form on Sunday morning but the closest LCMS parish is into contemporary Christian worship of a more generic evangelical stripe.  In this case, their refusal to close is a witness.  Are they wrong? 

Your Turn / Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« on: February 09, 2021, 09:49:20 PM »
Maybe something is going to give. . . we will see.  Some of those dying have been dying for so long they were kicked off of hospice.  That said, what is so wrong with a congregation serving its members as it slowly dies?  We have no ecclesiology that would prevent it. I would prefer that we did but we don't.  If there is a willing retiree and a congregation with a few bucks, what are we to do about it?  We can try and persuade them but what skin is it off our noses if they choose not to listen?  Again, I am not advocating for this but admitting that the ecclesiology the LCMS has chosen cannot prevent it, can it?

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