Peace Pasadena





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Where Luther Got It Wrong: The Peasants’ Revolt

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Campus Ministry


Just read through these fun stories of Lutheran Campus Ministry graduates! Thanks Pastor Mindy Roll, Brazos Valley Campus Ministry.

Paul Westbrook – Lutheran Volunteer Corps,
2012 Graduate of Texas A&M

Following four years with Treehouse and graduation from Texas A&M, I joined the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. LVC offers a year of service, while living on a very small monthly stipend with a community of other volunteers, and is centered on core practices of sustainability, simple living, communal living, and spiritual growth. I moved to Washington and worked on a farm that served as a group employment site for adults with intellectual disabilities, and I quickly fell in love. I learned how to recognize and celebrate the infinite worth in every person, and I encountered a work and passion that I never knew existed within me. I have now moved to Austin, and I am happy to report that I am getting connected into the food justice scene more and more everyday here, and hope to start my own gleaning/giving community garden in the coming months.

Kim Serry – Lutheran Volunteer Corps,
2012 Graduate of Texas A&M

My first year after graduation I had the opportunity to work as an Americorps member in a program that supported homeless young adults and youth aging out of foster care as they tried to establish stability and independent living in the face of tremendous obstacles. Then last year I worked as a member of Lutheran Volunteer Corps at an emergency meal site and overnight shelter that primarily served people experiencing homelessness. The formation I received in community at Treehouse moved me to engage on a deeper level with these issues than I would have otherwise. The consistent proximity and interaction with the poor (hungry/unsheltered, socially excluded, psychologically tormented…) of my own community had a profound impact on me; I experienced both a deeply felt complicity in their poverty/oppression as well as healing/conversion when I encountered their robust humanity and in turn recovered a bit of my own.

Amy Gulliksen – Young Adults in Global Mission,
2013 Graduate of Texas A&M

I am currently living and serving in East Jerusalem through Young Adults in Global Mission, learning about the occupation, what peace might look like, and where God is in all of this. It has been a difficult experience; nothing can ever prepare you for living life under military occupation. However, being in Treehouse helped prepare me to be with people who are grieving, have lost hope, or are facing despair. For in our grieving, our faith gives us hope; my time in Treehouse, from learning about liberation theology over a beer to serving breakfast tacos to migrant workers, helped me understand how to find this hope. Daily I pull from those experiences to enter more deeply into life in East Jerusalem.

Hannah Watson – Young Adults in Global Mission,
2014 Graduate of Texas A&M

I graduated from Texas A&M in May 2014, and I am now serving as a volunteer with Young Adults in Global Mission through the ELCA. I am based in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, at the foothills of the Andes Mountains. I first learned about YAGM through a seminary recruiter who came to visit Treehouse my freshman year of college, and since that conversation I felt called to a year of service after graduation. Here, I work at three site placements; Cruz del Sur, a congregation of the IELU (Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Unida), Fundación Petisos, an organization focused on the rights of children, and Cre-Arte, a center that provides creative workshops for differently-abled adults. I am learning so much everyday through my host community, and God continues to walk with me through new situations and questions.

Elizabeth Westbrook – Lutheran Social Services of the South,
2013 Graduate of Texas A&M

My time with Treehouse empowered me to become aware of the gifts I have been given of organization, communication, and empathy, and how those gifts align with my passion for the sacredness of human life. It is because of Treehouse that I was drawn to work at Lutheran Social Services of the South in Austin, TX. LSS is an organization that aims to end multigenerational abuse. My time at LSS has given me the opportunity to use my gifts in a way that responds to the things that God has called me to care deeply about.

Josh Muehlbrad – LEAD Intern
2014 Graduate of Texas A&M

My time at Treehouse made me realize that I wanted to do something more with my faith, and that really inspired me to seek out a pastoral internship with LEAD. This past summer, following my graduation from A&M, I shadowed Pastor Rich Nelson, working at Emmanuel in Burton for three months and learning about Burton Bridge Ministries. The internship helped me realize that although the church is changing, there are people who are working to help it move in the direction it needs to for the future.

Keri Petersen – Adult Confirmation Guide
2013 Gradaute of Texas A&M

After graduation I moved back to San Antonio where I got a job working as an Engineer at Southwest Research Institute. Soon after returning to San Antonio I started volunteering at my church (Zion Lutheran Church of Helotes) as a chair for the new capitol campaign and an adult guide to the confirmation class, and I went to Honduras on a mission trip this past summer. While I was a part of Treehouse I learned how to ask hard questions and wrestle with theological topics. My leadership position was primarily a Bible study leader, so I learned how to have open and welcoming conversations about faith. I learned to listen more carefully and learn from people with different experiences from my own. All of these skills are directly applicable to mission trips and volunteering with youth. Showing youth they are important and significant in this world brings them closer to God and allows them a free space to ask all the questions they have relating to life and faith. Treehouse was an incredible experience that
continues to guide my faith journey today.

Travis Meier – Pastor, Bethany Lutheran Church
2008 Graduate of Texas A&M

I am serving as the Associate Pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Fredericksburg, Texas. My time with Lutheran Campus ministry helped to affirm my call to be a pastor. The leadership of campus ministry, and community that it provided, challenged and nurtured my faith, and how I
share it, in a healthy way.

Heath Abel – Pastor, Covenant Lutheran Church
1998 Graduate of Texas A&M

I am the pastor at Covenant Lutheran Church in Temple, Texas and am a native of Texas, receiving both my bachelors and masters degrees from A&M. I attended the Lutheran Seminary Program of the Southwest. When I first came to Aggie Lutherans I was looking for a place that welcomed the deeper questions about God. What I found there were real people and authentic relationships. (I also met my wife, Erika, there and thank God for that.) This shapes the way I do ministry today. I welcome people no matter where they are on their journey. And I know that through conflict we find strength. Through death we find life. And the Spirit is still leading me toward healing and peace in Jesus name.

Heather Anderson Hansen – Professor, Texas Lutheran and Seminary Student, Luther Seminary
1995 Graduate of Texas A&M

I currently serves as a lecturer at Texas Lutheran University in the Theology Department, while also pursuing a M.Div from Luther Seminary and pursuing ordination in the ELCA. I have a long history with youth ministry, having obtained an MA from Luther in Youth & Family Ministry, then serving for 12.5 years as youth director in a congregation and also as the Synod Youth ministry Coordinator for the Southwest Texas Synod. Campus ministry gave me the opportunity to use my God-given gifts in participation and leadership with my peers as well as the congregations that hosted us. It was a place where I could learn who I was as a person of faith and determine what vocation meant for me. It’s also where I made a number of life-long friends, experienced the love, guidance and support of exceptional adult mentors, and began to realize the true gift of God’s incarnational presence and grace through others.

Bob Ierien – Pastor, Lebanon Lutheran Cooperative Ministry
1996 Graduate of Texas A&M

I’m currently serving as one of the pastors of the Lebanon Lutheran Cooperative Ministry, a co-op of four Lutheran congregations in Lebanon, PA. LLCM was formed in January 2014, and grew out of the recognition that we can do more together than we could do separately. The four congregations share ministry resources and opportunities to build capacity for sharing the good news in Lebanon. My particular interests in ministry are stewardship, outreach, faith formation, spirituality, and community engagement. Right now I’m working on helping the congregations shift from focusing on scarcity to focusing on abundance, and on developing a strategy to help us become an “inside out” faith community (one where everything we do inside leads us outside to bless the communities we live and work in).

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ELCA Bishops’ Statement on Immigration Announcement

As people of faith and leaders of the church, we support public policy that protects children, reunites families, and cares for the most vulnerable, regardless of their place of birth. 
The treatment of immigrants is a core religious value. To welcome the stranger is to welcome a child of God. In the New Testament, Jesus tells us to welcome the stranger, for “just as you did it to one of the least of these… you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:40)

Each day in our congregations and in our service to the community, we see the consequences of this broken immigration system: separated families, children returning home to find their parents have been deported, and the exploitation of undocumented workers.
By removing the threat of deportation for many people, we are showing compassion for people who have been here for years, working hard to provide for their families, obeying the law, and contributing to the fabric of our community. 
While today’s action addresses a pressing need, it does not provide a path to citizenship, establish policies that prioritize family unity, or create more efficient channels for entry of new migrant workers. Our hope is that congress will address these and related issues, including the practice of family detention, which undermines our values as a people of faith and a nation of welcome.
The Scriptures consistently show a significant concern for immigrants:
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:33-34)
The positive role of immigrants in our history, economy and our community is unmistakable. We support this compassionate first step toward reforming an immigration system that is flawed and requires many of our neighbors to live in the shadows in fear. 
Conference of Bishops
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
November 20, 2014

Como personas de fe y líderes de la iglesia, apoyamos una legislación pública que proteja a los niños, reúna a las familias, y se preocupe por los más vulnerables, independientemente de su lugar de nacimiento.

El trato a los inmigrantes es central al valor religioso. El darle la bienvenida al forastero es darle la bienvenida a un hijo o hija de Dios. En el Nuevo Testamento, Jesús nos dice que debemos darle la bienvenida al extranjero, porque “tal y como lo hicisteis a uno de los más pequeños de estos … me lo hicieron a mí. ‘” (Mateo 25:40)

Cada día en nuestras congregaciones y en nuestro servicio a la comunidad, vemos las consecuencias de este sistema de inmigración: familias separadas, niños que regresan a casa para encontrarse con que sus padres han sido deportados, y la explotación de los trabajadores indocumentados.

Mediante la eliminación de la amenaza de deportación para muchas personas, estamos mostrando compasión por las personas que han estado aquí durante años, trabajando duro para mantener a sus familias, obedientes a la ley, y que contribuyen a la estructura de nuestra comunidad.

Mientras que la acción de hoy se dirige a una necesidad apremiante, no proporciona un camino a la ciudadanía, ni establece políticas que le dan prioridad a la unidad familiar, ni crea canales más eficientes para la entrada de nuevos trabajadores migrantes. Nuestra esperanza es que el congreso aborde estos y otros asuntos, incluyendo la práctica de la detención de familias, lo cual socava nuestros valores como pueblo de fe y de una nación de acogida.

Las Escrituras muestran consistentemente una preocupación importante por los inmigrantes:

Cuando un extranjero resida entre vosotros en vuestra tierra, no le maltrates. El extranjero que resida entre vosotros debe ser tratado como un nativo. Debes amarle como a ti mismo, porque tú fuiste extranjero en Egipto. Yo soy el Señor tu Dios. (Levítico 19: 33-34)

El papel positivo de los inmigrantes en nuestra historia, la economía y nuestra comunidad es inconfundible. Apoyamos este primer paso hacia una reforma compasiva de un sistema de inmigración que está defectuoso y requiere que muchos de nuestros prójimos vivan en las sombras del miedo.

Conferencia de Obispos
Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en América
20 de noviembre 2014
Traducción: Pedro Suárez, Gulf Coast Synod

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December 7, 2014 is Advent 2B

December 4, 2011

Isaiah 40:1-11 – Comfort, comfort ye my people… Every valley… Thou who tellest good tidings to Zion… He shall feed his flock…

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13 - Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him that his glory may dwell in our land.  Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.

2 Peter 3:8-15a - With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, The day of the Lord will come like a thief… The elements will be dissolved like fire… Therefore wait in peace with patience.

Mark 1:1-8 – Isaiah: The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord! John appeared in the wilderness. Many were baptized by him, confessing their sins.

The Beginning of the Gospel of the Son of God

This Sunday the gospel reading consists of the first eight verses of the Gospel of Mark. Here you have it:

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
 “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’” 

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Before we dive into Mark’s gospel and pull it apart piece by piece, it might be good to step back and look at the whole. Here are a couple of outlines.

Mark Outline

This is an outline of Mark’s gospel that I have used over the years, adapting it to various needs and group Bible studies. I honestly don’t know where it comes from. I probably robbed several New Testament scholars, renaming things along the way to help me get my mind around the gospel.

There are many outlines of Mark out there. Some are very long and detailed, allowing the reader no perspective on the whole. Some draw the lines in different places. For example, some outlines place 1:14-15 in the first section, as a summary of the preface. Others place 1:14-15 in the second section, as an introduction to Jesus’ Galilean ministry. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. The goal is simply to “see” the scope of the gospel: its plot and movement.

The value of an outline is the ability to see the sweep of the entire book. In Mark, that sweep moves us gracefully from Jesus’ ministry up north in Galilee, to his Judean ministry, then crucifixion and resurrection.


A few interesting things:

  • Mark uses the phrase “and immediately” 42 times.
  • Mark never uses the word “law.”
  • Only Mark gives the healing phrases of Jesus in the original Aramaic: talitha cum and ephphatha.
  • In Mark, Jesus is a carpenter (6:3). In Matthew he is the carpenters’ son.
  • In Mark (6:3) Jesus names his brothers and mentions his sisters.
  • In Mark, the disciples can carry a staff and sandals. In Matthew and Luke they cannot.
  • Jewish customs are explained for an apparently Gentile audience.
  • Jesus declares all foods clean (7:19)

Outline of Mark

I. Introduction (1:1-13) 

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

  1. The beginning of the Good News: Forerunner John the Baptist (1:1-8)
  2. Jesus’ Baptism (1:9-11)
  3. Jesus’ Temptation (1:12-13)

II. The Ministry of the Hidden Messiah in Galilee (1:16-8:26) 

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee…  

A. The beginning of the Galilean ministry (1:14-15)
B. The Call of the Four (1:16-20)
C. Exorcisms and Healings in Capernaum
D. More Healing, and Conflict Stories (2:1-3:6)
E. Parables (4)
F. More Healing Miracles (5 and 7)
G. Double Tradition:

6:30-7:37                             8:1-26

Feeding 5,000                    Feeding 4,000

Crossing the Lake              Crossing the Lake (8:10)

Debate with Pharisees      Debate with Pharisees

Healing                                Healing

III. Journey to Jerusalem (8:27-10:52) 

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi… 

A. Gradual Revelation of Suffering
(Predictions: 8:31, 9:31, 10:32-34)
B. Pattern 3x

  • Prediction
  • Response
  • Instructions

C. Complementary Material

IV. Hidden Messiah to Jerusalem (11:1-13:37) 

When they were approaching Jerusalem… 

A. Judgment in Action (11:1-26)
B. Judgment in Words (11:27-12:37)
C. The Little Apocalypse (13:1-37)

V. Passion and Resurrection (14-16:18) 

It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. 

A. Jesus Prepares for His Departure (14:1-42)
B. Jesus’ Arrest and Trial (14:43-15:20)
C. Jesus Crucifixion and Burial (15:21-47)
D. Jesus’ Resurrection, Appearances and Ascension (16:1-8, alternative ending)

Contents of Mark’s Gospel

For some, rather than an outline that attempts to identify the structure of the gospel, a list of the contents may be more helpful. I started with Gospel of Mark in Bible Encyclopedia but found this to be more thorough.

Galilean ministry

Journey to Jerusalem

Events in Jerusalem

So now let’s go back to the introduction.

Luther Seminary professor emeritus Paul Berge points out that the first sentence of this gospel has no verb. He points out that this is probably Mark’s way of putting a title on his gospel. Keep in mind that Mark was written in Greek, with all capital letters, no punctuation, and no spaces between the words. This complicates things. You might not think it matters that much, but consider this phrase:


What does it say? Does it say, “God is now here.”? Or does it say, “God is nowhere.”? You could have two completely opposite interpretations, depending on how you divide the words. We know there is interpretation going on in the very act of translation, but keep in mind there is also interpreting going on even before translation begins, in the dividing of the text into words, and then the words into sentences and paragraphs, and inserting punctuation. By the time we are looking at Nestle’s Greek text, it has already been divided into words, put in lower case letters and filled with punctuation.

Someone once asked in a Bible study if their deceased loved one was in heaven right now. A member of the study quoted Jesus’ words from the cross, “Truly I tell you today you will be with me in paradise.” Ah, but where do you put the comma? Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”? Or “Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise.”? One indicates they’ll be in paradise today. In the other, Jesus is simply saying it today, that at some undefined time in the future they’ll be in paradise.

Enough of this tangent. The thief doesn’t even appear in Mark’s account. My point is that the gospel writer would not boldface and center his title giving a space in between. The missing verb clues us in that this is the title of his gospel:

The Beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God

This is just the beginning. Son of God, yes, but throughout most of Mark’s gospel, Jesus will be the Son of Man, a clear statement of the theology of the church from a very early gospel. Jesus is truly human, truly divine. “Son of God” only appears four times in this gospel, I believe (1:1, 3:11, 5:7 and 15:39). The last one I consider to be the climax of the gospel. In 1:1 the author clues us in that Jesus is the Son of God. The second two references are by unclean spirits. No human person in the narrative recognizes Jesus as the Son of God until the very end, and then it is a pagan.

The Roman centurion at the cross, after witnessing, no, overseeing the crucifixion of a gentle, humble, innocent man – after seeing how he died – the Roman centurion is the one to confess who Jesus is: “Truly this man was the Son of God!” Not just king of the Jews, as the authorities had posted above his head, as a sign of his insurrection, but Son of God. Sorry to be a spoiler, though I’m banking on the assumption that you’ve all read this short gospel.

I strongly recommend, if you are teaching or preaching on this gospel this year, sit down and read it straight through from beginning to end in one sitting. One feels more clearly the scope and content of the gospel. This is how it was meant to be read anyway.

I better not close without a few words about John the Baptist. John was an ascetic, living a kind of monastic lifestyle. Jesus was surrounded by people, and ate and drank with sinners. John preached a baptism of water, with repentance. He made it clear that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. In his words he points to a power that goes beyond repentance and purity.

I like John because he points to Jesus. In the famous altarpiece painting of the crucifixion by the German artist Matthias Grunewald at Isenheim, John the Baptist is pseudo-surrealistically painted into the scene. He is, of course, dead, so this is a marvelous work of dialectical art. John points to Jesus with an over-sized finger. “Him.”

The preacher might consider ways in which our lives point to Christ. Do our ministries point to Christ? Or to us? Do they say, “See how wonderful we are?” or, “See how wonderful Christ is?” How might we, like the moon, reflect the light of the sun? Luther said we are all “little Christs.” How might we, as a means of preparing for Christ’s coming, more fully reflect the glory of the gospel in the face of Christ, just as the glory of the law was reflected in the face of Moses?

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New Car

Average cost of a new car: $32,160
Average new car loan: $27,430
Average used car loan: $17,974

Average new car payment: $471
Average used car payment: $352

20% of new car loans are six-year loans.
Source: CNBC and Experian Automotive

The average household income in the US is $54,000. Don’t waste your money on a rapidly depreciating asset. Take care of your car and drive it a long time. Dave Ramsey says the cheapest car to own is the one you already have 99% of the time. Even if you hit a $1000 repair, that’s cheaper than a new car. It’s only two payments.

Debt is choking America. It robs us of our ability to give generously to causes we really care about. Ramsey says all your vehicles (including the boat) should not amount to more than half your household income. Smart guy.

It’s just a matter of good stewardship.

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Houston Businessman Stan Marek on Immigration

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