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??

Monday, April 27, 2015

Easter Hymns

I came across a bulletin for the Third Sunday of Easter recently (April 19) and in this particular church, they did not sing any Easter hymns on this Sunday! Really? We sing Easter hymns all through the Easter season - all seven Sundays. That's why Easter lasts a full 50 days - to celebrate it! And there are so many good Easter hymns; too many not to keep singing and rejoicing in the resurrection.

So my question to any of my brothers out there who may stumble upon this blog: Do you sing Easter hymns all through the Easter season? And if not, why not?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Some Good Luther

More from Luther in his "Great Galatians:"
"But the Law is good, righteous, and holy." Very well! But when we are involved in a discussion of justification, there is no room for speaking about the Law.  . . .  This Bridegroom, Christ, must be alone with His bride in His private chamber, and all the family and household must be shunted away. But later on, when the Bridegroom opens the door and comes out, then let the servants return to take care of them and serve them food and drink. Then let works and love begin.
~ Luther's Works, Vol. 26, p 137-38.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Who Is Really Doing the Accepting and Receiving?

As I was reading Luther on Galatians this afternoon, a thought occurred to me:

You will often hear folks saying "You have to accept Christ" or "You have to receive Christ." Yet with those phrases, it always seemed to me that the emphasis is on us and what we are doing. And the words "have to" always make me uncomfortable when talking about Christ because they are law words.

So maybe this is a better way to say it: Christ died for your sins. He became man to take your sins upon Himself on the cross that you be forgiven your sins. He said He would do it and He did it. When you believe that, take hold of that (faith), then the Father accepts you, forgives you, and receives you as His child for the sake of Christ. This emphasizes the work of God and Christ for us and seems a better direction that the first.

What do you think?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Busy Day

Well, today was the Walk-Run-Ride for Life. Team Athanasius raised $2,615 for the pregnancy center, good for 6th place among the teams. Thanks to all who helped and sponsored us. No pictures of the riders this year, though.

After that, however, was the Stop Hunger Now food packing event. We joined with a bunch of other churches in Vienna to package 250,000 meals for people around the world in need. This year, our food is going to Liberia and people effected by the Ebola outbreak there. Here are a couple of pictures:

Looking good in the mandatory hair nets!

Mrs. Peasant (black shirt center), daughter Peasant (white shirt next to her),
and two other Athanasians work on weighing and sealing the food bags.

My job this year was to help restock those who were filling the food bags. That meant I got to carry around and pour 50 lb. bags of rice and soy for my shift! But it was a good time. There were other Athanasians who participated also, but during different shift times.

Now I am tired and ready to relax. A nice cold beer when I got home hit the spot. Now a little more prep for tomorrow and then off to bed. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

District Convention - What Others Are Saying

Just finished several days with the LCMS's SELC District. It is a so-called Non-geographic district that has most of its congregations in the stretch form New York to Illinois, where many Slovak Lutherans settled in the previous century. Great worship, excellent preaching, good reports, great collegiality and marvelous humor. The hospitality rolled out for myself, Jon Vieker and 2nd Veep John Wohlraabe was just tremendous. Congrats to Rev. Andrew Dzurovcik, whom I had the pleasure of installing this a.m. at his congregation, Zion, Clark NJ, as the new District President. The SELC is the LCMS's smallest district. But they've got the biggest hearts! The whole convention was held at Zion. Oh, and the food was to die for!
~ Matt Harrison

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

District Convention - Final Day

The convention concluded Sunday as we attended the Divine Service with the congregation, which was nice. During the service our new DP and all the newly elected were installed. Then we had lunch and a brief afternoon session to finish some things up. We concluded with the traditional memorial service for all who had died since the last convention.

One item of note: our lay delegate was elected to the nominating committee for the 2016 Synodical Convention! No, I did not nominate her or vote for her (as we promised each other - she wouldn't vote for me and I wouldn't vote for her) but she got elected anyway. I actually am glad for it's an important committee and good to have her on it.

After the convention I drove down to Philadelphia and saw our old house and what the new owner had done to it, visited some neighbors, and then some old friends, before driving home. I got home really late and was really tired, but fortunately the angels were with me and got me home safely - somehow. Taking a couple days off now to rest as I didn't get any time off after Easter. I need it!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

District Convention - Day 2

Today was filled with elections and some resolutions. As for the elections, it was a mixed bag - not in the sense of good or bad people elected, but because a lot of former people were re-elected to positions. I have long been an advocate of getting new people into these offices and give young guys a chance, but the convention returned a bunch of the older guys who were beginning to be phased out. That's not necessarily bad, but something to watch in the next couple of years. We missed out on
some good guys because of some silly by-laws that say people in certain positions have to be elected from different circuits. In some cases I think this makes sense, but in others, no. Some of the balloting took many rounds to complete, so the elections took quite a good part of the day. The elections people did a good job, though - I give them a lot of credit.

As for overtures/resolutions, we got a bad one defeated, which I am happy about - but how it was presented was humorous. The head of the resolutions committee was given the floor 5 minutes before the lunch break. The DP thought he would bring a simple "Mom and Pop" resolution to the floor and fill that time with something easy. Instead, he whipped out the longest and most contentious resolution in the book! So, it got presented and then waited until after lunch to be considered. Everyone (myself included) spoke against it - which was a surprise. And when the DP asked: Is there anyone who will speak in favor of the resolution? no one did! Not one. After that, I didn't even think we needed to vote, but we did anyway and it was defeated with something like 90% or so nays!

So in many ways, this has been a weird and unusual convention.

The food has been outstanding. I've had lots of good conversations with folks. Sadly, the day ended badly when the DP came up to me and said "You're the new CV? We need to talk." Uh oh. So this evening, for a couple of hours, I found out all the problems in my circuit and the issues I am now going to have to deal with as Circuit Visitor. Kyrie Eleison! What a mess. I never knew it, but seems like my little congregation is one of the healthiest in the circuit and in the district. So let's just say that didn't help me sleep real good last night!

Today we join in the Divine Service with the host congregation and have a brief session after lunch to finish things up. Then I head down to Philadelphia to see some old friends and help them video chat with my father. He's really going to like that. He hasn't had a chance to chat with them since he moved in with us.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

District Convention - Day 1

Today was a pretty benign day. Mostly reports, presentations, introductions, and things of that nature. Some good, some the usual. Two "devotional services" with guys in my circuit preaching - better than the usual for a district convention. The Synod President had his time today to report and answer questions. He did a good job, though I wish more people would ask questions. The nice thing is that he and his folks are here for the whole convention, so we can talk to him informally all throughout.

Yesterday is when we also had our official circuit forums. These are when each circuit meets separately and elects their "circuit visitor (formerly counselor)" and delegates to the synodical convention next year. Sadly, I was elected our circuit visitor/counselor. I really did not want to do it again and wanted to give someone else the chance, but I respect the decision of the circuit. The delegates we elected were pretty good too. And no, not me. :-)

The thing about being elected as CV is that you can only be elected to one position, which means I am not eligible to be elected as our circuit's representative to the Lutheran Haven Board of Trustees. I was elected to this last convention and have grown fond of serving on this board. The board itself may still appoint me back, but it also may not. We'll see.

Today is the day when stuff should happen - most or all of the elections, including a new district
president. I truly have no idea who will win - in my opinion, of the four running, I think three have a chance. We'll see how it goes. I'm up for a couple spots but not worried that I'll get any of them. (Above I said that you can only be elected to one position, so in the highly unlikely event that I win one of today's elections, I would have to decide which position to keep. I actually think I would let my circuit decide if they want me to be CV or take one of these other positions.)

Today we should also have some overtures to consider - including at least one that should create some debate. So today should be an interesting day, at least. And I'm still enjoying talking to guys and seeing folks in our district that I don't get to see very often. That's the good part of these conventions. (And during one long and boring report, I did get to look ahead, study, and think about my sermon for Easter 3 a bit!)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

District Convention - Opening Night

Our District Convention started tonight with the opening service. President Harrison preached a good sermon and it was pretty much straight Divine Service 1, which was nice. Saw lots of folks before at dinner and got reacquainted. Tomorrow the actual meetings will begin, so I'll have more to report then. Now time to relax a little.

What If . . . (Part 2)

The bakery that refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple has been in the news a lot recently. But what if a person who did not support gay marriage asked for a cake to be made that stated that view from a baker that did support gay marriage? Would his rights be upheld?

Evidently, that very experiment was tried, and the outcome predictable. HERE is a link to the story about it. I'm not sure I would have been as over-the-top as this gentleman was, but this is becoming the new normal in our country . . . fast. It's amazing how quickly things are changing. It's not going to be easy to be a Christian in the future, perhaps even now.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What If . . .

Just a random thought I had this morning when I pointed out before Morning Prayer that today is the third day of Easter . . .

What if the writer of The Twelve Days of Christmas had decided instead to write The Fifty days of Easter? Now THAT would take a long time to sing!  :-)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Christ is Risen!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
A happy and blessed Easter to you all.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Rest Well

Rest well, Beloved, sweetly sleeping,
That I may cease from further weeping,
And let me, too, rest well.
The grave that is prepared for Thee,
And holds no further pain for me,
Doth open heaven to me,
and close the gates of Hell.

~ JS Bach, St. John Passion, final chorus

Friday, April 3, 2015

Great and Holy Friday

Behold, the life-giving cross on which hung the salvation of the world.

My song is love unknown,
My Savior's love to me,
Love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be.
Oh, who am I
That for my sake
My Lord should take frail flesh and die?
(LSB #430 v.1)