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Messages - Pr. Luke Zimmerman

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Your Turn / Re: Methodists in the thick of it
« on: June 06, 2019, 10:23:05 AM »
While the internal issues within the United Methodist Church are being dealt with, the denomination's bishops are attempting to increase their ties with another denomination:
"Bishops Move Toward Episcopal Church Accord" (

What, if any, effect will that have on the UMC's internal wrestling with the results of its 2019 General Conference?

It is also interesting to read through another article about the UMC Council of Bishops meeting in May and statements concerning the stresses arising from the 2019 General Conference:
"Bishops Plan to Explore New Forms of Unity" (

Your Turn / Re: As November Is Not TOO Far Away...
« on: September 22, 2018, 10:19:24 PM »
Thanks for sharing, Pr. Weedon.

The entire CD is full of gems. It gets plenty of play in my life during late October and November.

Your Turn / Re: Lutheran Seminary fires new president
« on: March 14, 2018, 10:43:24 PM »
Here is how the local newspaper in Harrisburg, PA is reporting the story online tonight:

Lutheran seminary president ousted in controversy over past "conversion therapy" work

Posted just for reference.

Your Turn / Re: Reformation 2017 - Observances and celebrations.
« on: October 30, 2017, 11:33:07 AM »
Besides the local parish observance on Sunday morning, parishioners from my LCMS congregation in Mechanicsburg and from the neighboring LCMS congregation in Lititz met together in Myerstown for Festival Evening Prayer. This is where an LCMS mission congregation is being planted; last year's Reformation observance there was a sort of formal "kickoff" of that effort.

Meeting in a seminary chapel that is rented as worship space for the mission congregation, there were 125+ worshipers gathered, including some who were not attached to our parishes. Prior to the beginning of the service proper, singers young and old from both congregations and the mission plant sang settings classic and modern of seven different Luther hymns.

My colleague, Adam Koontz, gave a dynamic homily about the eternal gospel that comes down from heaven, which remains our focus even as the world that we see around us may scoff at or mock it. We can look up to this message with hope instead of looking down and around at our generation and despair. It was an excellent treatment of the Reformation pericopes (Revelation 14:6-7; Roman 3:19-28; and Matthew 11:12-19). Taking that to heart might inspire people to both hold onto and make known that gospel, even in the midst of opposition.

In the late medieval context there was a two-tiered Christianity:
1) The top tier was the spiritual elite represented by monks and priests who distinguished themselves
from ordinary Christians by vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
2) The bottom tier was ordinary Christians (the Laity)

Martin Luther made a revolutionary  assertion that ordinary Christians were spiritual and religious.
He said that in Holy Baptism all Christians participate in a spiritual priesthood (l Peter 2:9) and have
direct access to God by faith.  Everyday vocations were divine callings: father, mother, worker, farmer,
miner, citizen.

I appreciated Dr. Herrmann's article about the value of the Reformation today. Noting the 95 Theses as a protest against bad pastoral care is spot on.

However, his article may have simplified the tiered-Christianity concept just a tad too much. The emphasis on the monastic life in medieval Western Christianity led it to being the top tier without peer, as the contemplative life was considered of greater value than the active life. But what might be forgotten or a little too fine of a detail for a short article was that this applied to both clergy and laity. That was the case for the laity who took up monastic vows, as well as "minor clergy" holding offices below subdeacon but were not in the priesthood. Additionally, the divide between regular and secular clergy was also present, so that monastics were considered greater than clergy serving parishes and people outside the monastery walls.

So in some ways, we should probably speak of a multi-tiered Christianity in the medieval context:
(1) Monastic clergy
(2) Non-ordained monastics
(3) Secular clergy
(4) Laity
But even that would probably be a bit simplistic.

However, the reason I would suggest for doing this is that occasionally we can revert--wittingly or unwittingly--to a medieval-ish understanding when speaking about the Christian life. That's seen when the message is given that being a recipient of Christ's gifts through worship and the study of the Scriptures, then living as His disciples in the world is good, but the truly dedicated Christian--lay or ordained--will be the ones who go on mission trips, hold congregational/denominational offices, join a parachurch organization, or manifest some sort of "spiritual gift."

This is not to say that any of those activities are bad, valueless, or shouldn't be done. But we can posit the idea that people who are highly involved in "church work" constitute a different tier of disciples, even though we may not require people to take monastic vows as in days of old. I'll admit that this is probably not the biggest concern that we have in the 21st Century Church--maybe it's #87 on the list. But it's interesting how erroneous ideas just morph themselves into new packaging throughout time.

Your Turn / Re: Generation gap in expectations for ministry
« on: January 24, 2017, 02:58:43 PM »
a) from the perspective of your own self-interest, I would take seriously what is on your PIF, SW.  You always have a right and really a responsibility to see that document and its numbers, and to schedule a meeting with the DP/CV/VP to discuss it.  For the non-Missourians, the Personal Information Form contains a bunch of categories regarding the pastor, from preaching to visitation to personal habits to connection to the wider church to family matters to education/teaching to theological inclination/disposition, etc.  Ratings are on a 1-5 range.  So somebody out there is passing information on you, SW, that might indicate you're a paltry 2 out of 5 in relationships, a 3 out of 5 in preaching, and a 4 of 5 on the moderate/conservative line.  I had guys come in and arbitrate their case because it is an evaluation of them and they have a right to do so. As do you.

The highlighted above is a marked difference from how things roll in the ELCA. It has been made *crystal* clear to us (in more than one public meeting of synod clergy) that anything and everything in our "file" is property of the synod and that we have absolutely, positively no right to examine it. It was further stated that if anyone one were to seek legal process to examine said file, the bishop would still not release the contents, even in the face of a contempt citation. This includes the letter accompanying the "Rostered Leader Profile" that's required when one seeks to become rostered in a different synod.

One may or may not be allowed to view any of the contents of their file, should they ask.  It is completely at the discretion of the synod bishop.


Very interesting is that reported difference concerning how various Lutheran church authorities deal with disclosing personnel files. I would suggest that if an individual can obtain records from government agencies concerning his or herself, the ecclesiastical government agencies should at minimum do likewise. It brings to mind what our Lord says: "Do not even the Gentiles do the same?"

2016 LCMS Convention / Re: Wednesday Afternoon
« on: July 14, 2016, 07:02:55 PM »
I found the 2004 "One List" (Jesus First List) from the Web Archives and compared it to the election results from the 2004 Convention Proceedings, as seen below. (Bold Italics = elected.)

Synod President:
Gerald Kieschnick

1st Vice-President
William Diekelman

2nd-5th Vice-Presidents:
Paul Maier
David Buegler
Tom Zehnder
Dean Nadasdy

Vice-President of Finance
Tom Kuchta

David Mahsman

Board of Directors
O: Richard Thompson
O: Victor Belton
L: Betty Duda
L: Richard Peters
L: Walter Tesch
L: Lloyd Wardley

District/Congregational Services
O: Juan Gonzalez
C: Richard Herman
L: Robert Boyer
L: David Bruns

Higher Education
O: Donald Muchow
C: Ralph Schultz
L: Nancy Drews
L: Arthur Kaul

(The Board for Higher Education was split by Resolution 5-02A at the 2004 Convention into the Board for Pastoral Education and the Board for University Education. So this is a harder one to analyze. I simply noted if endorsed candidates for the Board for Higher Education were elected to either of the two newly-created boards.)

Mission Services
O: Eloy Gonzalez
O: Philip Kuehnert
L: John Shaud
L: Virginia Von Seggern

O: Armand Boheme
C: Kenneth Palmreuter
L: Shirley Bergman

Concordia Publishing House Board
O: Roger Sonnenberg
C: Ruth Geisler
L: David Domsch
L: Ruth Koch
L: Robert Beumer

LCEF Board
O: David Belasic
L: Kermit Brasher
L: Joseph Carabell

Fort Wayne Seminary Board
O: John Kieschnick
L: Miriam Hoelter
L: Ron Matthias

St. Louis Seminary Board
O: Walter Tietjen
L: James Ralls, Jr.
L: John Schrage

I'd also note that the process of electing was different in 2004 than now. Where there were multiple seats of one category (e.g. Layperson on Board of Directors) being elected, the electing was done by casting votes for multiple candidates at a time. This is bad electoral practice, but was in use by Synod Conventions from at least 1998 until 2010. It skews the elections a bit, since there isn't a sense of getting the "majority" of the votes. You don't have the run-offs in the same way as we saw in 2013 and 2016. This may have diluted the strength of the Jesus First voting bloc in the Board elections compared to their success in the Praesidium elections.

Internet searches for a 2007 Jesus First List have so far proved fruitless. If I could obtain one, a similar analysis could be performed.

2016 LCMS Convention / Re: 4 - Life Together
« on: July 14, 2016, 11:03:10 AM »
It was enjoyable to hear a hymn sung in thanks other than the Common Doxology.....

Perhaps more variety like that could be seen for resolutions at future conventions, choosing hymns more fitting to the resolution topic. Or even other LM musical settings of the Doxology could be used.

2016 LCMS Convention / Re: Wednesday Afternoon
« on: July 13, 2016, 03:06:36 PM »
The Agnus Dei set to Samuel Barber's haunting Adagio for Strings being played while the pictures of the deceased were displayed was a fine addition to the commemoration service.

Your Turn / Re: Book based congregational Bible studies
« on: May 19, 2016, 06:18:55 PM »
I've conducted several book-based studies at congregations where I've served:
Why I Am a Lutheran by Daniel Preus
The Hammer of God by Bo Giertz
Christ's Church by Bo Giertz
A Simple Way to Pray by Martin Luther
God in the Dock by C.S. Lewis
On Being a Christian by Henry Hamann

I've also led congregations through reading studies of the Large Catechism and the Augsburg Confession. We've also occasionally read through a Luther sermon from the House Postils collection.

Almost all the book studies have been on weekday evenings, which gave a 70-80 minute window, rather than Sunday morning, which seems to be a bit rushed.

The two Giertz titles were very well received by those who read through them. I'd whole-heartedly recommend using both of them.

If you're going to do a book study, be sure to draft a study guide that helps to introduce each chapter/section of the book and discussion questions about the content. I've also found that developing my own discussion questions brings better results than using pre-written guides. The pre-written guides vary both in quality and in application to the audience; I'd expect you to think the same of my work, if you used something that I wrote up for my congregations.

I hope those comments are helpful to your planning. Your original post also reminded me that it's been about 18 months since the last book study I conducted; time to think about organizing another one for September!

Your Turn / Re: Rev. Bart Day Nominated For LCMS Secretary
« on: March 11, 2016, 05:25:55 PM »
It's my belief that all the nominations that are run separately from the Nominations Committee are now finalized.  In other words, not only the nominations for Secretary but the Presidential and Vice-Presidential nominations.  There should be a link to that listing of worthy clergy somewhere out there. 

Dave Benke

The link to the LCMS Praesidium nomination results is below:

I believe that the Regional Board (Directors, National Mission, International Mission) nominees have yet to be revealed. Those are also done by total number of nominations, separate from the Committee on Nominations.

To the original thought of the thread, I hope that whomever replaces Secy. Hartwig will capably fill that role. He's been very good with helping us new District Secretaries learn the nuances of the job, answering the most basic and complex questions alike.

Your Turn / Re: Some Reflections on Last Sunday Liturgy
« on: November 23, 2015, 12:03:38 PM »
Lutheran Forum published a good article by Frank Senn about the origins of Christ the King Sunday: "The Not-So-Ancient Origins of Christ the King Sunday" (Lutheran Forum, Fall 2007:19-22).

There seems to be a tension between the older Lutheran custom of having the three eschatological Sundays to close the Church Year--still present in the one-year lectionary, as Rev. Weedon's congregation uses--with the modern ecumenical custom of the Christ the King celebration on the Last Sunday. That is seen in the LCMS lectionary with the options of Gospel Readings.

In Year A, that tension isn't there, since the Proper 29 Gospel is Matthew 25:31-46--an eschatological text, if there ever was one! But in Year B, the Gospel options give a choice of themes: John 18:33-37 (authority) or Mark 13:24-37 (parousia). In Year C, there is no option; everyone hears Luke 23:35-43. Although that text seems to focus a little more on judgment rather than authority over earthly powers, as seen in Jesus' dialogue with the penitent criminal. 

The last two cycles, I've gone with the Mark 13 reading at my parish, so that the people hear two weeks of eschatological thoughts from Jesus. I suppose that probably comes from being raised with the eschatological focus of the last three Sundays of the Church Year, as well as serving in places where odd ideas of the eschaton tended to be held by the strong Anabaptist contingents in the area. If the trigger is ever pulled to going to the One-Year Lectionary, then the matter is moot.

Your Turn / Nunes Elected as President of Concordia College - New York
« on: November 22, 2015, 10:39:47 PM »
The LCMS college in New York has elected a new president: Rev. Dr. John Nunes.

As with all who are elected to positions of authority, including those within the Church, it is hoped that he will serve well in this new capacity.

With Dr. Nunes' past involvement at Lutheran World Relief, his name is known among many on the Forum. Maybe he can join his fellow college president, Dr. Daniel Gard, in posting here?

Details from the college's website:

Your Turn / Re: "Less Room in the LCMS Brotherhood"
« on: July 15, 2015, 10:19:42 AM »

In my research on Luther's understanding of vocation I found no association between the Table of Duties and his understanding of vocation.  The LCMS has gravitated toward associating the two, but there is no evidence to support this.  What is your basis for linking The Table of Duties with Luther's understanding of vocation?



While I'm not Scott, I did read your question to him. I'll admit a little confusion about what you're asking, so I hope that the following is helpful:

I suppose that associating the Table of Duties with the concept of vocation comes from the title it is given in the Small Catechism: "The Household Chart [Die Haustafel] of some Bible passages for various holy orders [heilige Orden] and walks of life [Staende], through which they may be admonished, as through lessons particularly pertinent to their office [Amtes] and duty [Dientes]." (English translation from K/W, p. 365) Those terms "heilige Orden," "Staende," "Amtes," and "Dientes" are all essential to the concept of vocation.

The Table of Duties provides fundamental answers to basic questions that Christians should have about their vocation(s): To what order(s) have I been called? What walk of life or position has been given to me? Since I have an office conferred to me, what are the duties that it entails? And since the answers are being provided from the Scriptures, it would indicate that God has been involved in the calling, giving, and conferring of these offices/positions [vocation language], as well as the establishing of the duties which are associated with said offices/positions.

Albrecht Peters' Commentary on Luther's Catechisms: Confession and Christian Life (pp. 109-140) shows links between the Table of Duties and Luther's concept of vocation expressed in some of his other writings. Peters interestingly notes that the concept of three holy estates, as well as the "common estate of Christian love," are identified towards the end of Luther's 1528 Confession Concerning Christ's Supper (AE 37:151-372), which might not be the place usually looked at for teaching on that subject.

Your Turn / Re: "Less Room in the LCMS Brotherhood"
« on: July 09, 2015, 09:53:31 AM »

What is the evidence that he was ordained? Gal 2:3 affirms that he was a Gentile.

Forgive me Pastor Stoffregen for hijacking your question -- I don't mean to answer it or quibble with you over it so much as ask a tangential question that popped into my head as a result of it.

Does Sola Scriptura require one to ignore other sources of information in answering questions like this?  Because my first thought was "well, he was bishop of Crete."  But then, that's not in the Bible, so from a Sola Scriptura standpoint, Pastor Stoffregen's question is a good one.  I can't prove it from the Bible.  It's true.  It's historical.  But are we free to discard that record, or argue that it ought be discounted based on bias, or lack of sources, or whatever?

This is one of those moments that reminds me how far removed I am from my Lutheran roots, even as I often feel very close to them.  When my snap reaction is to reference Holy Tradition and the historical record, when the question assumes a Sola Scriptura schema, it throws me for a bit of a loop.

Anyway, my apologies again for hijacking the question, but I am curious as to the answer.

Personally I don't have an issue with such an approach.  I've never understood Sola Scriptura as affording no value to history and tradition.  I think that appealing to established and documented historical precedent is a necessary part of the overall argument.

The others who referred to Titus can answer for themselves, but I took their response as being not just that Titus was ordained but that he received the apostolic instruction to appoint elders from among the Cretans (Tt 1:5-16). Whether the Scriptures record that Titus received "ordination" may be questionable, but his task of placing elders into office is not and neither is his status as a fellow worker of Paul.

I suppose that one could ask whether "ordination" was part of that appointment, since the particular verb isn't used, but those discussions usually tend toward a nuda Scriptura posture. I would suggest that such appointment would have been similar to what Timothy both received and about which he was advised (1Tim 4:14; 1Tim 5:22; 2Tim 1:6).

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