The Pastor Challenge

The Pastor Challenge

The Assist Pregnancy Center's Walk-Run-Ride for Life is coming up in May and this year I am challenging myself in order to challenge all of you! I am challenging myself to ride a "Metric Century" (100 kilometers) in four hours, and if I can ride farther than I ever have at one time before, I challenge all of you to support me more than ever before. I set my goal this year at $5,000, and our team (Lutherans for Life) at $7,500! If I can do it, you can do it. Assist helps so many mothers and babies, and they are expanding their facility to help even more - and so need our help more than ever, especially coming out of this pandemic. So please help! CLICK HERE to go to my sponsor page to sponsor me, or you can sponsor anyone else who joins the team, or the team as a whole.

Will you step up to the challenge??

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Church's Wisdom

I love the fact that while Christmas for the world ends on Christmas Day (just take note of how many folks take down their trees and turn off their lights starting today), for the Church Christmas is just beginning. We get to celebrate this wonder for 12 days (and Easter for 50)! The Church’s wisdom with the formation of the Church Year is truly evident here in this.

I especially appreciate this as a pastor. As a pastor, the days leading up to Christmas are so busy with the preparations to be made in leading the faithful in the services, that were Christmas to end on the 25th, I (we!) would miss it. But no, the Church continues to celebrate, and we pastors get to sit quietly and reflect on the wonder.

Christmas Day

Christmas was difficult for me this year, for a number of reasons, which I won’t get into here. I always feel a certain sense of relief when the services are finished and I can finally relax with my family. This year I was able to relax a bit more as we did not leave right away to visit our extended families. [My wife worked last night (a nurse in pediatric oncology) and so we are not leaving to see family until this afternoon.]

I must say, though, that I was pleasantly surprised at the number of folks who came to the Divine Service on Christmas Day! Still not a large gathering, to be sure, but more than expected. And what made it great was the variety of people we had – we had a retired Chinese pastor and his wife; our Ethiopian family; a man from our Spanish Bible Study; an Iranian man and his Norwegian wife who are friends of our congregation; and one of our adopted seminary students and his family! It was truly a picture of the “people of every tribe, people, and language” that we hear of in Revelation. And then to receive the body and blood of our Lord on the day we remember His birth, nothing is better than that.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Intimacy

Many churches have very large services for Christmas Eve. It is a special time with the church filled and sometimes overflowing. I give thanks to God that so many will hear the Word of God proclaimed that night.

However, in my congregation, it is quite different. Many of my folks leave the area at Christmas and so for us, Christmas Eve is not a large, overflowing service, but a much smaller and intimate gathering of the faithful. It took me a little while to get used to that, and though I sometimes miss the full church, I have come to love this time with my flock as well, as we ponder the mystery of the incarnation.

I wonder how many churches are like mine?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Evening Prayer

For my congregation’s Advent midweek services we pray Evening Prayer from the Lutheran Service Book. I have always appreciated this liturgy, but especially this year. For what a joy to hear my children singing it, and especially my 2 year old singing “Lord, have mercy” and the refrain to the Magnificat. What a treasure to pass down.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Got Patience?

One of the themes of this week's Epistle (James 5:7-11) was patience. Boy is that in short supply! But not only in our world (whether it's Christmastime or not!), but also in the Church. There seems to be a great rush to do many things, instead of a quiet, trusting patience in the Lord. Those in a rush may see patience as laziness or inactivity, but even a quick reading of James shows he is not calling us to those things, but to faith.

Whenever I hear of patience I also think of the well-known passage in 2 Timothy: "Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching." Too often, it seems, we are quick to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with far too little patience. Perhaps this hits home for me because I know how slow and stupid I am; how long it took me to understand many things . . . and there are many things I am still trying to figure out! So I'm in it for the long haul -- both for myself, and for others. If it takes a long time, that's okay with me. Patience forces me to rely on God. It is the way of faith.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm . . .

One of the young men I am catechizing asked me the other day: Why is the cover of the Greek New Testament (Nestle-Aland 26) in Latin? Hmmmm . . .

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Advent is Too Short

I love the Advent season. I love the midweek services (although attendance is usually not that great), and the break they give for prayer and meditation in the midst of a busy season. I love looking to the end through the manger and the cross. I love the hymns. I love the anticipation. I just wish it would last longer. Every year it seems like it has hardly come before it is gone . . .

Wading In

Yes, I am wading into the blogosphere. A day late and a dollar short, right? I hope some things of worth might be posted here, for whomever wishes to read them. It will probably be a rather eclectic mix of things . . . whatever is on my mind. So, welcome to my blog!