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Messages - bookpastor/Erma Wolf

Your Turn / Re: Ecumenical News
July 07, 2017, 11:07:15 AM
 What has been totally overlooked is the real problem with bringing lime jello tuna fish casserole to Episcopal meals: revealing upper Midwest Lutheranism's secret weapon in mission-driven discipling. One simply does not share that with just anyone.  >:(

  Especially since the Episcopalians obviously did not appreciate what had been placed before them. Those foolish Lutherans were just casting pearls before swine!  (I just hope they didn't include the marshmallows in the spurned offering.)

  Besides -- who knew Episcopalians had potlucks?   ::)
Your Turn / Re: "in accordance with the scriptures"
April 19, 2017, 10:20:53 AM
Quote from: Matt Staneck on April 19, 2017, 07:35:13 AM
This is the problem with prooftexting (both liberal and conservative). It's a fundamentalist blind spot. "In accordance with the scriptures" simply means that the scriptures in their whole witness point to this life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Only a fundamentalist would have trouble with this.

M. Staneck

   Or as it is pointed out in Luke 24:27, "Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures."
  (And yes, I've just used a prooftext to point out the strength of your argument against relying on prooftexting.  8) )
Quote from: Eileen Smith on April 18, 2017, 11:20:57 AM
TEEM = Theological Education for Emerging Ministries.  To be honest, I thought it was more focused on those congregations (albeit small) where English is not a first language.  In MNYS we've have a number of TEEM pastors who have gone through this program and led congregations who speak, for example, Swahili, Spanish, etc.

In cases that Pastor Wolf cites (small, rural areas) and non-English speaking congregations, this is generally a good program.  In cases where expediency seemed more of the driving force, it has not worked that well.

Eileen, thanks for explaining the acronym. The bishop is working with a Sudanese lay evangelist to get him into the TEEM program, so he can become the pastor for the South Sudanese Lutheran Ministry that has developed in Council Bluffs. But so far, most of the TEEM candidates are in small, rural congregations.
Quote from: Richard Johnson on April 18, 2017, 10:22:32 AM
Quote from: mj4 on April 18, 2017, 06:57:11 AM
Quote from: Richard Johnson on April 17, 2017, 09:25:47 PM
I admit that I've been surprised, teaching at Fuller, how often I've had students who were ordained, serving as full-time pastors, but were only now working on a seminary degree (and not even necessarily an MDiv). It's not just the AOG.
United Methodists are among those churches that will put someone in charge of a congregation while pursuing studies.

This happens primarily in small, usually rural, congregations, and the difference is that it is quite clear that these are "lay pastors"--i.e., they are not ordained (though they do have some minimal training).

This is also happening in the ELCA, and as you point out, Richard, usually in small, rural or small town congregations (worship size under 50). The Western Iowa Synod is doing this using "lay pastors" (for lack of a better term; they aren't supposed to use the title of pastor but it happens) who are undergoing training which is intended to lead to ordination. (They also have an ordained pastor as a mentor, and are under the candidacy program of the synod.) It is called TEEM ministry. (Yes, that is an acronym, but I don't remember of what!) It has its plusses and minuses.

(And for anyone who wonders why these congregations don't close, or work with a neighboring congregation that is of another denomination with which the ELCA has a full-communion agreement -- well, both of those are happening as well. TEEM candidates get used in congregations for which the second option isn't available, and the first isn't appropriate.)
Your Turn / Re: Bach- The Gospel Word through music.
April 17, 2017, 10:38:29 AM
Thank you for posting this, Pastor Kirchner. I spend much of Good Friday and Holy Saturday with Bach, whether I am in the car or in the church building. I am not as familiar with his Passions, but I am beginning to learn about them.

My post-Easter treat will be hearing Bach's Mass performed live by the South Dakota Symphony on Saturday evening. And for those not familiar with South Dakota, this performance will be in the excellent accoustic space of the Washington Pavillion Great Hall in Sioux Falls. The South Dakota Symphony has made a tradition of performing a choral work in the spring, not always of sacred music, but some other years they have done the Verdi Requiem, the Brahams German Requiem, and at Christmas -- of course -- Handel's Messiah. The chorus draws on the music department of Augustana University-Sioux Falls, and singers from all over the region who rehearse weekly for about four months for these performances. Plus, for the Bach Mass the symphony has been offering free lecture/discussions for the past two months on the various parts of this work, on Bach as musician and theologian, in conjunction with First Lutheran Church in downtown Sioux Falls.

If anyone has the chance to hear Bach's music performed live (or better yet, sing any of his compositions), it is not a gift to be wasted.
    The more I learn (and experience) regarding Presbyterian and Anglican/Episcopalian teaching and worship practices, the more points of contact and similarity I see. (Some important differences and distinctions, as well; but a number of them are more in what is emphasized, rather than in flat-out oppositional stances.)

    Some years ago, I was with another ELCA Lutheran pastor who was extolling the Episcopal Church (admittedly, a rather high-church seminary of that body) and running down another seminary of the Presbyterians. I remarked that in my experience, many Episcopalians were Presbyterians with a liturgical rulebook and better vestments. I'm not sure my colleague ever forgave me for that statement!  ;D
Your Turn / Re: More Coptic Martyrs
April 13, 2017, 11:21:03 AM
     "O Lord, look down from heaven, behold, visit, and relieve your servants, for whom we offer our supplications; look upon them with the eyes of your mercy; give them comfort and sure confidence in you; defend them from the danger of the enemy, and keep them in perpetual peace and safety; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen."

(As printed in The Daily Prayer of the Church. Philip Pfatteicher, ed. Published by Lutheran University Press. This prayer was previously in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and in the Service Book and Hymnal.)
Your Turn / Re: More Coptic Martyrs
April 10, 2017, 12:43:24 PM
I heard the first reports of the bombings of the Coptic churches while driving to my parish (I don't always turn the radio on to catch the news from NPR, but I did so yesterday). I included them in the prayers.
    I had decided a few weeks ago that my preaching text would be the processional Gospel from St. Matthew, augmented by the verses that describe Jesus going into the temple, through his quoting of Psalm 8 when the leaders object to the children's voices crying out "Hosanna to the Son of David!" I wanted to make the connection, as I believe Matthew does, between the children of Bethlehem who are silenced by Herod and the children of Jerusalem whom others find objectionable. Our Lord comes in humility, on a donkey, but with an authority that many did not and even now do not understand. His "army" are the children, the blind, the lame, the lepers, the tax collectors and prostitutes, the fishermen from Galilee and the women who faithfully stand by him. The continuing evil of those who think bombs and chemical poisons will be able to silence the voices of their opponents reminds us that we still need a Savior whose authority is shown in serving others.
    And, of course, a Savior who gives himself to death for the sins of the world, even the sins of those who delight in such evil. Would that they would hear the word of the Lord, and turn, and live.
Your Turn / Re: Remember John Ylvisaker
March 15, 2017, 10:43:57 AM
Quote from: Dave Benke on March 14, 2017, 04:13:33 PM
  Of course, I pray for you as well.  Prayer changes things.   8)

Dave Benke

"Pray for my soul.  More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of.  Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day. 
For what are people better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friends?
For so the whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God."

From "Idylls of the King," by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. A friend quoted this the other day, and several of us had him repeat it several times, so we could fully appreciate it. (Makes me think I should go back and reread the "Idylls" again.)
Your Turn / Re: TOP TEN for the Lutheran Layperson
March 09, 2017, 10:48:12 AM
Quote from: Weedon on March 07, 2017, 08:51:47 AM
My top ten list:

1. Hymnal (what Erma said so well!) of your Church
2. Treasury of Daily Prayer (or the app: PrayNow) - an amazingly helpful way to keep you in the Word and to share treasures of theological reflection and devotion from across the centuries.
3. The House Postils of Luther - get to know the great man's theology from the place where he was least inclined to be speculative and most inclined to deliver over exactly what he had received.
4. Bondage of the Will - Luther thought this his greatest work; he's kind of ornery to his opponent, but that's because it wasn't a rational game to Luther, but a matter of utmost importance. It's hard slogging, but worth it.
5. Giertz's Hammer of God
6. The Apocrypha: Lutheran Study Edition, because every Lutheran deserves to have in their own language the complete contents of the Luther Bible. Lots of goodies in the actual text of the Apocrypha itself and the notes do a decent job.
7. Jacob's The Elements of Religion. This is a vastly underrated but very lucid presentation of Lutheran doctrine from the fellow who wrote the communion hymn: Lord Jesus Christ, We Humbly Pray.
8. Gerhard's Sacred Meditations. A Lutheran spiritual classic.
9. Senkbeil's Sanctification: Christ in Action.
10. (Out of print and hard to find, but gold) Richard Jungkuntz' The Gospel of Baptism

Thank you, Rev. Weeden, for this list! I am not familiar with a couple of these, but was reminded that I wanted to get Johann Gerhard's Sacred Meditations. (I purchased his "Meditations on Divine Mercy" several years ago, and have made it one of the books I reread annually.) I immediately ordered it!

And I would encourage others as well -- get not only the Gerhard, but also the 3 volume House Postils of Luther. A treasure.
  It seems to me that the author of this sentence, "Then, the "Church Militant" referred to spiritual warfare, which was far more serious and soul-destroying than mere Thirty-Year Wars" is most awake and alert to the true danger of the "old evil Foe."

And I am always amused (and a bit saddened) by the glee which others express in denigrating someone who has been a published writer of both scholarly and popular Christian history, as well as many articles on the modern American church (which is, after all, his area of study and expertise), primarily because he (in this case Dr. Marty) has had a long career in which many of his writings have been published. Why, how dare he!!!

Reminds me of a posting I saw recently. "Those who can, do. Those who can't, snipe at those who do." 
Quote from: Donald Topp on March 07, 2017, 11:04:42 AM
In another thread I brought this up because somehow the chatter drifted in another direction, but I thought it would be better for me to start a new thread. This is not about "policies" but about theological reasons and rationale.

What are the theological reasons for communing a non-baptized person?

What are theological reasons for not communing a non-baptized person?

I'm curious what you mean by "theological reasons."

As for myself:
   Question 1:  There aren't any. (Doesn't mean there aren't any reasons at all; just not, to my thinking, theological ones.)
   Question 2: The theological reasons for not communing a person who isn't baptized are, for me, found to lie in the theological reasons for the sacrament of baptism being the initiation into the life of a Christian. Reception of communion makes no sense as a stand-alone act done outside of being marked with the cross of Christ and being washed in the water and the word of Christ's command and promise. Baptism and Communion are joined together, and receiving communion without baptism is theologically as nonsensical as receiving baptism without communion (either immediately or as soon as a child is physically developed enough to receive).

(Yes, and I am well aware that for most of us, communing of baptized children, much less of infants, is a minefield of contention and even strife. You asked for theological reasons, not policy. But mistaken policy leads to mistaken theology; and I think more and more that the practice/policy of separating baptism and reception of communion has resulted in some very unfortunate theology. And one of the results is the current arguments for communing the non-baptized.)
Your Turn / Re: TOP TEN for the Lutheran Layperson
March 08, 2017, 02:21:10 AM
Quote from: J. Eriksson on March 06, 2017, 09:49:57 PM
This question ignores some important defining characteristics of who is the "Lutheran Layperson".
What is said persons reading level?   
What do you recommend if they are not very literate or very literate in English?   What is readily available, affordable and what time constraints are placed on their free voluntary reading?

What can the pastor of an immigrant congregation made up of people whose first language is not English recommend?

What can DP ret. Dave Benke recommend in his parish  compared to Pr. Wolf?
What have I read and really liked?

Other than the above quibbles my thanks to all who posted.  I will consider those that I haven't read.

My best to all

James, your questions are well worth thinking about.

I'm a reader. Always have been. I bought a Book of Concord (Tappert edition) back when I was a teenager just out of curiosity. Read it on my own for a while, starting with the Small and Large Catechisms, found the Formula of Concord to be interesting (there was a short summary! as well as a longer, wordier explanation, some of which made sense and some didn't); didn't get to the Augsburg Confession until I was in college and was trying to figure out what I really believed.

I have no experience with pastoring a congregation made up of those whose language isn't English. That would be a challenge, but I would look for what was available both in the native language as well as what was translated and worked with reading levels.

What do I recommend to my own congregation (most of whom, though native English speakers, are not particularly avid readers)? It depends. The Small Catechism is a basic. The worship book is another. This year I used a graphic novel about Luther with my confirmation students (the one published by CPH); they really liked that. I still find the devotional booklets "Portals of Prayer" (again, CPH) to be an excellent resource.

You're right to ask your questions. No list will work for everyone. My list of essentials is a Bible, the Small Catechism, and the hymnal. (Either in English, on a level that works for reading ability, or in the language that is known.) After that, it depends. But I always encourage people to read, and to stretch and challenge themselves.
Your Turn / Re: TOP TEN for the Lutheran Layperson
March 04, 2017, 10:43:39 PM
Some of mine will be repeats from the lists of others above (but if it is good, it is good and bears repeating). Others will show my own idiosyncrasies. (Also -- fair warning -- I'm one of those ELCA Lutherans.  ;D) Anyway, here goes:

1. The Small Catechism.
       Because. It was the original writing for Lutheran laity. Read it often. It's simplicity is deceiving; you will never reach the end of exploring its depths.

2. The Book of Concord (Kolb/Wengert edition). The laity should not be frightened off from this! Begin with the two catechisms, the Small and then the Large. (You really get a sense of Luther's personality, as well as his faith and thinking.) Then go to the Augsburg Confession. It is THE essential Lutheran writing.

3. Luther the Reformer, by Kittelson. Still one of the best biographies on Luther and very readable for laity.  (And I haven't read it yet, but one might take a look at "October 31, 1517: Martin Luther and the Day that Changed the World," by Martin Marty. I think this may be a good way to understand just what the posting of the 95 Theses meant, then and now, and should be approachable for laity. At least, I hope so.)

4. Lutheran Questions, Lutheran Answers. Also by Martin Marty. Very approachable for laity. Good questions, even if not all Lutherans will totally agree with his answers.  ;)

5. Lutheran Identity: A Classical Understanding. Frank Senn. The paperback might be out of print, though it is available as an ebook, andf of course there are ways to get it in good used condition. Written for laypeople, Senn lays out what is at the heart of the Lutheran expression of the Christian faith and life.

6. Giants in the Earth. Written by O. E. Rolvaag, this novel is the first in a trilogy about a Norweigian family that emigrates to Dakota Territory (about 40 miles north of modern day Sioux Falls), and explores through fiction what happens when Scandinavian Lutherans come to a new and very foreign land. While the first volume is the best known, I strongly recommend also reading the second book in the trilogy, "Peder Victorious," which continues the story into the second generation. It is particularly good at describing the difficulties for some when it becomes necessary to translate the Lutheran church experience into English.

7. Babette's Feast. This novella by Isak Dinesen is a masterpiece, and while the sisters and their community (who provide a refuge and a home for Babette) are clearly a small (and getting smaller!) sect of Lutheranism, this story of generosity, strained community, and gratitude is a parable about grace and living in gratitude for salvation received. Read the story, and then see the excellent movie. (And the movie is great for the visuals of the preparation of lutefisk, starting with pulling the dried out board-stiff cod off of the line! Babette is so gifted as a cook that she can make the stuff something the poor and infirm look forward to receiving.)

8. Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust. Edited by Robert Ericksen and Susannah Heschel. Ericksen also wrote "Theologians Under Hitler," which deals with 3 Protestant German theologians, including the Lutheran Paul Althaus, who either compromised with Hitler's version of "German Christianity" under the Third Reich or totally supported it, and contrasts them with several (including Barth and Bonhoeffer) who rejected Hitler's heresy. "Betrayal" is a series of essays about what happened during the Nazi years in Germany with the church, both Protestant (Lutheran and Reformed) and Catholic, and the overwhelming failure of the Protestant Church in Germany to oppose Hitler's program against the Jews. Sadly, Bonhoeffer, Niemoeller and others were in the minority. This is a tragic part of Lutheran history, and a cautionary tale for the rest of us.

9. Fools for Christ: Essays on the True, the Good, and the Beautiful; Impressions of Kierkegaard, Paul, Dostoevsky, Luther, Nietzsche, Bach. Jaroslav Pelikan wrote this very early in his career (1955), but it holds up as an exploration of the Holy in the lives of these men. True, only 4 are Lutheran (or of Lutheran heritage), though I think Lutherans think of St. Paul as an "honorary" Lutheran! But this not only gives insight into these men from a Lutheran perspective, it also gets us reading about Bach. (And if one wants to take it on, Pelikan's "Bach Among the Theologians" is wonderful. Bach may indeed be the greatest theological interpreter of Lutheran Christianity of them all.)

10. Either the Lutheran Book of Worship, or the Lutheran Service Book. Every layperson NEEDS a worship book, the hymnal, because faith isn't primarily what we think about God, it is how we live and worship in and with the Body of Christ. Both of these books contain the creeds, prayers, hymns, psalms, a schedule/lectionary for daily Bible reading as well as the lectionary for Sundays of the church year, and much, much more. (And yes, I recommend the LBW, rather than the ELW. All human resources, including the best of the worship books, have limitations and issues; for me, the ELW has more issues -- my word -- than most, and I am just too uncomfortable with it to recommend it.) Other prayer and devotional books are great (I love "For All the Saints"), but the hymnal takes priority.

11. Yes, I know you asked for ten. Well, this is a bonus book!  "Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings," edited by Timothy Lull, provides writings of Luther that are truly basic. Everything that Luther wrote (and he wrote a lot) is not dogma for Lutherans; but his influence on Lutherans and Lutheran thinking and belief, not to mention his influence beyond the church, is so great that it is helpful to get a sense of the breadth of his writing. Luther was not a systematic theologian; most of what he wrote was to respond to issues and situations around him. This gives a good sense of that, as well as how he both developed and changed in his thinking through his life. This book has been revised over the years since it first was published; if one has room for one more book I strongly recommend this one after the first ten on my list.

And while it doesn't make my list, my personal favorite in short devotional books: "The Road Back to God," by O. P. Kretzmann.
I'm torn between two reactions.
      1. If stuff like this from some entity or other in the ELCA didn't exist, some here would have to invent it, lest they have to start examining more closely their own faults and foibles.   ::)
      2. If it weren't for bad theology, we'd have no theology at all.   :(
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