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Messages - Jonathan Priest

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Your Turn / Re: Variety in Service Settings
« on: September 27, 2018, 12:52:14 AM »
I am confused. Are we debating one service or one setting?

For example: I happen to love the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom but appreciate it sung in a variety of languages and settings. My favorite is the English setting by Roman Hurko.


Your Turn / Re: a hesitant offering
« on: August 02, 2018, 09:35:32 PM »

Our church is located in the neighborhood of Seattle which identifies itself as the home of the gay community. After reading your earlier post, I asked our deacons to read it as well to help inform our daily interactions with our community. I look forward to reading this extended post with them in the fall.

The Lord is faithful,

Rev. Jonathan Priest

Your Turn / Re: Retired pastor behavior
« on: August 02, 2018, 07:59:28 PM »
Something in this discussion must have pushed one of my buttons about the assumptions behind accepting a call in the LCMS, hence the general tone of "rant". 

What's your opinion on establishing ongoing collegial lines of communication with the previous pastors of the congregation?

In both of the congregations I've served I've intentionally called, met, and had dinner with EVERY former pastor that was still breathing and not suffering from severe dementia--this even includes my immediate predecessor who was forced to resign and then left the LCMS to go into the ELCA. I even told the calling committee that I would develop a friendship with him if I accepted the call and have.

Why? My opinion is that practicing churchmanship is not just synchronic but diachronic, as in, since I stand on the shoulders of my predecessors for good or bad I should probably know them. They are not just ideas, they are people whom the church called and for whom the Lord died and rose. Having a collegial line of communication with these men and asking them to explain their hopes, dreams, and service to the congregation during their time has been of immense value in shepherding.

In both my current congregation and my former congregation there have never been residual problems that have developed after having a former pastor return to attend worship, social events, or even lead worship. This past year we have had a retired pastor, two sons of a former pastor, the grandson of another former pastor, and another former pastor of the congregation now serving a sister church all active in the catechetical life of our congregation at the same time. The result? The church maintains its confession of faith.

I often hear the words of the Lord (admittedly applied out of their original context yet still applicable in a generalized fashion) when I think on these things, "Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves". I also grant that a sinful meddler can certainly disrupt the polity of a local congregation, whether they are ordained or not. But I also confess the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church in which I, my predecessors, and those who come after me in the LCMS share a commitment to unity (concordia) in the faith.

Do we shepherd in such a way that we have led our congregations to assume that their adherence to sound doctrine is primarily located in the charisma (but not in the theological sense) of the pastor? Certainly this is a natural human tendency. But, we have EXPRESS passages in scripture which utterly abrogate this false doctrine (cf. "I follow..."). Is it because we neglect to combat this false doctrine or teach the catholicity of the church's confession in her symbols in our teaching? Do we turn to a "talmudic" set of synodical policies and regulations about the role of the former pastor being involved in the life of the church instead?

Rev. Jonathan Priest

Your Turn / Re: Some Good News please?
« on: July 18, 2018, 12:11:12 PM »
You're welcome. One additional point about the rubik's cube: One method of solving a rubik's cube uses the sign of the cross! You first have to make a cross in order to guide the rest of your moves towards completion. Here is the link to the official webpage in case you want to see it in action:


Your Turn / Re: Some Good News please?
« on: July 17, 2018, 01:29:14 PM »
I interpreted John's death in Mark typologically under the category of prophetic martyrdom. John's death is a type of martyrdom which along with all prophetic deaths prefigures the arch type of Jesus' death and resurrection. I drew connections to the following verses:

Matthew, chapter 5, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Hebrews, chapter 11, "And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect."

I then compared prophetic martyrdom types to post resurrection apostolic martyrdoms. Afterwards, I reflected on the recent deaths of members in our congregation and how they specifically gave witness to Jesus. In particular, we had a younger lector in his 30's who unexpectedly died on Easter morning who had been very active in worship and ministry during Holy Week and had been scheduled to read from 1 Corinthians 15. I then asked our members to consider how they would talk about their own deaths with their children, siblings, friends, and neighbors.

I also used a rubik's cube throughout the message as a visual aid to talk about the chaos of one's existence apart from faith in Christ and the joyful hope that comes from trusting that one's life has now been aligned to Jesus' death and resurrection [all things work together for good...].


Your Turn / Re: Inner City Mission Work
« on: July 10, 2018, 11:43:54 AM »
My thoughts below. I don't give concrete examples since OH is different from my time Brooklyn and where I am now in Seattle. But these general concepts have directed my practice for the 18 years of ministry I've been blessed with.

1. Dart ministry --- often happens when new to the call so you throw things at the wall to see what hits and where and how long it stays up before falling to the ground. Lots of different projects, events. Can be sustained for a long time but feels unfocused and drains after several years.

2. Development ministry --- certain things just work better than others at putting you and your people in proximity with others so that you talk about Jesus more often. The congregation does those things every year. The congregation begins to be "known" for certain events, or a type of engagement. Sustainable but can be taxing on same congregational leaders.

3. Partnership ministry --- leveraging the congregation's assets, property, space, location, equipment by inviting specific social service oriented agencies to use them to advance goals that are in line with 1st article - my neighbor's home, family, spouse, assets, etc. Sustainable but can become too "social" and distract from the proclamation of the word if left unchecked.

4. Eucharistic ministry --- God's family at God's altar every week, centrality of baptism as God's family act.

5. Family centered / church supportive ministry vs. church centered / family supportive ministry --- Rather than emphasizing how families "come to church" we now emphasize how families "bring church home". I take this from Rev. Dr. John Oberdeck (LCMS). In my childhood the majority of families were "stable" and could give large amounts of time, talent, and treasure to support the collective ministry of the church. They taught Christ in the home. The church was the center of their social life. Currently the majority of my church families are less "stable". We now focus on how to help these families disciple their children in the home since this is a lost practice. And by emphasizing bringing church home, church now comes back to church too.

I'd also commend to you this article from last year's Concordia Theology blog and the numerous comments in the thread:

God's peace,

Your Turn / Re: Who Is On Martin Marty's Mt. Rushmore?
« on: April 10, 2018, 12:16:22 PM »
Neuhaus in his Brooklyn days recounted more than once ...
Dave Benke

I often felt that this example was inherent much of the advice he gave to me as well. Yet, I also noted that he counter balanced this example of a noble, hidden yet incarnate priesthood with the call for explicit public proclamation and engagement by the Church in the public square. Our individual witness is humble, gentle, and often hidden. Our corporate witness is assertive, engaging, and public.


Your Turn / Re: A Christmas Message from the NALC
« on: December 26, 2017, 12:06:17 PM »
I'm curious about the gifts topic, so am going to post to it...

1. Before child -- candy, booze, gift cards, scarves. After child -- clothes, toys, gift cards (for her), =)
2. My former congregation, a small "bonus"
3. Current congregation organizes a "Gift of Love" - all members contribute and the total is divided among church paid staff (office, musicians, clergy).

Seasonal bonus in both congregations was something instituted by members of congregation who received them from their employment and felt strongly about equitable practices in the church.

Jonathan Priest

Your Turn / Re: LCMS kerfuffle
« on: December 09, 2017, 01:11:11 AM »
Dr. Jurchen and other members of his family were classmates and part of my circle of friends at Concordia College, Seward in the 90's. My vicarage in San Francisco coincided with his graduate studies in Organic Chemistry at UC Berkley. His father Arnold Jurchen is an LC-MS pastor who was the interim pastor for Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Staplehurst, NE. Coincidentally, Rev. Jurchen is well known in my current circuit in Seattle since he served on Vancouver Island, BC for many years.

The Wyoming district neighbors the Nebraska district. Granted, it's a 9 hour drive from Casper, WY to Seward. I've driven it several times! Still, I wish the resolutions from these conferences spoke to whether they had engaged Dr. Jurchen or others professionally or personally closer to him in communication prior to their submission.

Jonathan Priest

Your Turn / Re: How women prophesy
« on: November 17, 2017, 12:16:29 PM »
I sit here this morning typing in the lyrics of two hymns in the Lutheran Service book which were composed and not merely translated by women. I still remember from my childhood days in elementary Lutheran school the ubiquitous name of Catherine Winkworth below so many hymns in the 1941 hymnal. From the recent 2017 reformation documentary I learned of "Argula von Grumbach". Of her Martin Luther writes:

“The Duke of Bavaria rages above measure, killing, crushing and persecuting the gospel with all his might. That most noble woman, Argula von Stauffer [Here Luther refers to her maiden name], is there making a valiant fight with great spirit, boldness of speech and knowledge of Christ. She deserves that all pray for Christ’s victory in her . . . . She alone, among these monsters, carries on with firm faith, though, she admits, not without inner trembling. She is a singular instrument of Christ. I commend her to you, that Christ through this infirm vessel may confound the mighty and those who glory in their strength.”

How does the legacy of these faithful women give insight into the role of prophetess?

Jonathan Priest

Your Turn / Re: November 26: Christ the King? Last Sunday? Advent?
« on: November 08, 2017, 11:29:16 AM »
Sunday morning, Advent IV.
Sunday evening, Eve of the Nativity.
Monday, Christmas.

The only significant transfer taking place at my congregation is that we will move the location of the organist to the piano and use DSIV from LSB. I told my organist if she was worried about fatigue (she is a Lutheran school teacher close to retirement) that she could take Sunday morning off and I'd lead liturgy and hymns on the guitar. Our board of deacons discussed the option of not having services on Sunday morning, but we were in consensus that to go against the local church's good and pious habit was detrimental to the encouragement of faith and individual conscience.


Your Turn / Re: Not theology, not Lutheran, but utterly fascinating
« on: September 08, 2017, 03:31:10 PM »
In what way might the Triglotta version of the Book of Concord illustrate the "levels" of language aforementioned? For example take this line from the editors:

"As for the German and Latin texts embodied in Concordia Triglotta, the former was compared with the original German edition, published 1580 at Dresden. Obsolete forms as “Gezeugnis,” “Oberkeit,” “gebeutet,” and, as a rule, also such forms as “nimmet,” “gehet,” “stehet,” etc., were replaced with: “Zeugnis,” “Obrigkeit,” “gebietet,” “nimmt,” “geht,” “steht,” etc. The Latin text was revised according to the first authentic Latin edition, published 1584 in Leipzig, and quite a number of misprints still found in Mueller’s eleventh edition of 1912 were corrected.

Recently my wife, daughter and I watched a Disney cartoon "The reluctant dragon" with German language and German subtitles. What fascinated us was that the spoken German was radically different from the subtitled German text. Both were still variations of spoken rather than written German; the distinction was one of formal verses informal language. My wife kept commenting on the written text, "nobody says it that way anymore, maybe my grandparents generation."

Jonathan Priest

Your Turn / Re: Robert W. Jenson +
« on: September 06, 2017, 06:32:46 PM »
Thank you for the suggested reading Matthew! A welcome addition to the mix for this Sunday's sermon preparation. I found this little turn of phrase refreshing and insightful: "Israel had been the nation that lived a realistic narrative amid nations that lived otherwise; the church offered herself to the gentiles as their Israel."


Your Turn / Re: Pros (and Cons) of Preaching Series
« on: July 27, 2017, 08:21:58 PM »
I'm stoked that everyone I've talked to in our congregation, particularly parents, are keen on moving to the LSB one year lectionary in Advent. Some apparently had even suggested it before I came. The one year was something which I never even considered until I became tired of getting smacked around by crashing waves of biblical ignorance . And the three year cycle wasn't bailing any of the water. With each new generation, the tide of biblical illiteracy just kept on rising, never falling!

By God's grace through faith, we've got an increasing group of parents of 0-5 year-olds who want their children to hear the same readings every year for a long time (as in, until they are adults). And as far as preaching series go, the one year may not be topical according to 21st century definitions but I've discovered enough thematic unity in the narrative to make tons of mini-series over the coming year if I was so inclinded.

And woohoo! Our new LSB hymnals arrived today, along with ESV pew bibles. Everybody seems pretty happy to discard the LW and RSV. =) Looks like we'll put the hymnals in the pews starting August.

Rev. Jonathan Priest

Your Turn / Re: Mockingbird
« on: July 13, 2017, 04:02:52 PM »
I almost forgot to ask: Was it Dave Zahl?

Rev. Jonathan Priest

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