Dear Gulf Coast Leaders,

October 25 – REFORMATION SUNDAY

Jeremiah 31:31-34The days are coming when I will make a new covenant with Israel and Judah: law on their hearts.
Psalm 46The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. (Ps. 46:4)
Romans 3:19-28
No one will be justified by the law. Now, apart  from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed.

John 8:31-36 – You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.

In our Prayers

·         Pastors John and Lawrence Bade, their mom and family as they grieve the death of their father Heinie Bade, age 91. Mr. Bade died today (Sunday, October 18) at his home in Cuero, Texas after a long illness.  Last week he and his wife Frieda marked their 69th wedding anniversary; Thursday, Oct 22 would have been his 92nd birthday.  Funeral arrangements are pending. Looks like maybe Wednesday.

·         Betty Hildebrandt, wife of Pastor Walt Hildebrandt, hospitalized

Listserv

These emails will be going out on Monday mornings for a while until we completely switch over our listserv. Remember, you can visit them at www.bishopmike.posterous.com.

Rerooting with the Police Department

This is for the sake of connecting, and also for the sake of safety. Some recent events have caused us to emphasize the following. But these are also good things to do to establish a relationship with local authorities. Get to know them. Let them get to know you. Learn from them. Be a well-rooted, vital member of the community.

It is well known from many tragic incidents that a determined gunman cannot be stopped from causing harm.  Nevertheless, here are a few things that congregations can do to try to prevent their churches from becoming the sites of crime:

1) Prevention Steps — Leadership & Local Authorities
   — build a relationship with the local police and ensure that they have current blueprints and photos of the church building, including interiors
   — in consultation with local police, develop an emergency contact list and distribute it to staff
   — arrange to have the police regularly patrol the church property and notify them of upcoming special events
   — when traveling to other locations, try to do so in pairs and keep cellular phones handy for emergency calls
   — do call the authorities as soon as possible during or after any incident; don’t wait

3) Prevention Steps — Staff & Volunteers
   — develop an emergency plan to address threats of violence, including a building evacuation plan
   — communicate plans to key staff and the congregation
   — make sure First Aid resources are available and offer First Aid/CPR training
   — instruct ushers and greeters to establish eye contact with all who enter the church and report concerns
   — watch for strangers and monitor persons exhibiting strange or suspicious behavior, including persons with bulky clothing, trench coats and the like
   — make sure all ushers have cell phones and are able to call police/EMS immediately in the event of an emergency or unusual circumstance
   — recommend that people arrive and depart the church in pairs or groups, especially after dark

3)  Prevention Steps — Building & Grounds
   — trim hedges and clear any obstacles to eliminate places a perpetrator could hide
   — ensure all outdoor lighting on building and in parking lot is bright and operating properly
   — limit number of entryways into the church and have ushers continuously monitor entry activity
   — ensure that all exits are clearly marked, unlocked, and well lit
   — secure any potential access windows and nonessential doorways

For further discussion of possible precautions, see these websites:
http://www.churchmutual.com/riskreporter/index.php?id=9
http://www.churchmutual.com/admin/store/downloads/crime.pdf
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/february/16.21.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/special/pdf/1001churchviolence.pdf

Advent

Advent is only six Sundays away if you can fathom that. Advent I is early: Nov 29. We start a new church year, a Lukan year. I’m tempted today to pontificate John 8’s focus on the freedom we have in Christ. I’ve also of late been pondering how we listen to God’s Spirit in the letter of the Bible, and in the viva vox evangelii. Prayer is indispensable as we ponder what God is calling us to do.

God has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.  – 2 Cor. 3:6

But Advent calls. Some of the earliest observances of Advent (as it originated in Gaul and Spain) had little to nothing to do with getting ready for Christmas: Christ’s birth. It had to do with the harvest and with eschatological fulfillment. Pope Leo the Great’s Advent sermons (5th century) have nothing to do with the Nativity, even on Christmas Eve. The focus was on judgment day, the end of time, the second coming (not the first).
Accordingly, Advent I picks up apocalyptic images. I frequently took the opportunity to talk about the cheery topic of the end of the world and Jesus as the telos of history, though not in those terms. One of my favorites was getting people to think about craters, like the one on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico that some scientists believe caused the global extinction of the dinosaurs. Or Barringer Crater in Arizona that they say must have been like a gigantic nuclear explosion that would have destroyed all life for many miles. Statistically, it’s just a matter of time till it happens again. People love this stuff. Feeds their paranoia. If you use projection the photos are spectacular. They drive the point home in a second. I’ll dig it up for you when we get closer. But the point is to point beyond the material, not to freak people out. So…

Of course that doesn’t spell the end of time. Just the end of us. But it gets people thinking about ultimate matters. And even if they can’t get their mind around the end of the world, it doesn’t hurt to remind them it doesn’t matter. The end of their world is even closer. We’ll all be standing before our maker in a few facades or sooner. It’s a time to think about being ready. What ultimately matters. What constitutes "ready." it’s about life’s trajectory.

On Advent II we start in on Luke 3 (1-6). In all three years of the Revised Common Lectionary John the Baptist is the theme for Advent II and III. On Advent III we continue in Luke 3 (vv. 7 ff.).  John calls his congregation snakes. Not the Pharisees in Luke’s gospel. Tois ochlois. Few if any are exempt.

The Psalm is Isaiah 12:2-6. Musicians will consider the popular First Song of Isaiah by Jack Noble White for choir and congregation. It’s a bit schmultzy, but tuneful, singable and a crowd-pleaser that they will song all the way home. It can be done really well with organ, piano or band. But there’s barely time to orderr it, get it and learn it. This is why we are talking about Lent already (just four months).

Advent IV is Luke 1: Mary and Elizabeth. This is the only Advent gospel that actually precedes the birth narrative. The Psalm is Mary’s Song: The Magnificat. In the upside-down kingdom of great reversals, a peasant woman becomes the Queen of Heaven. This has been set to music more than just about any other piece of Scripture. The version from Marty Haugen’s Evening Prayer is the one I hear used the most in congregations. Like The First Song of Isaiah, it’s accessible, singable and popular. Get a young woman to song the intro/solo.

Perhaps our best clue for getting ready" for the parousia is with John the Baptist. Baptism of repentance. The crowds (including tax collectors) are right with God because they are baptized with water for repentance. The Pharisees are not right with God because, even in the midst of their moral uprightness, they don’t repent. Oddly, they are not right with God precisely because they think they are. Their self-righteousness is their unrepentant sin. Humility, like that of Mary, of Jesus, is of ultimate importance.

God cannot fill what is already full. (Mother Teresa). The more full of our own righteousness we are, the less room there is for God’s righteousness. We can have nothing but humility before the One who brings down the mighty from their thrones and exalts those of low estate.

A lot to chew on.

שלומ سلام Peace,

Mike Rinehart

                                             

Michael Rinehart, bishop

The Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

12707 I-45 North Frwy, Suite 580

Houston, TX 77060-1239               

281-873-5665

www.GulfCoastSynod.org

Time after Pentecost 2009

November 1 – ALL SAINTS

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9 – The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God

or Isaiah 25:6-9 – On this mt God will swallow up death. No more tears.
 Psalm 24 – The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it. They shall receive a blessing from the God of their salvation. (Ps. 24:5)
Revelation 21:1-6a – Holy city coming down. No more tears.
 John 11:32-44 – The raising of Lazarus

November 8 – Pentecost 23B

Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17Ruth and Boaz have a child together.

or 1 Kings 17:8-16 – The widow of Zarephath
Psalm 127Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.

or Psalm 146  – The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down. (Ps. 146:7)
Hebrews 9:24-28 – More high priest stuff

Mark 12:38-44 – Widow’s mite

November 15 – Pentecost 24B

1 Samuel 1:4-20  – Barren Hannah goes to Eli the priest, then returns and conceives Samuel with her husband Elkanah.

or Daniel 12:1-3 – Michael, the great protector of the people is coming. Everyone whose name is written in the book shall be delivered.
1 Samuel 2:1-10  – Hannah’s song, source material for the Magnificat.

or Psalm 16 – My heart is glad and my spirit rejoices; my body shall rest in hope. (Ps. 16:9)
Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18), 19-25 – We have confidence to enter God’s sanctuary through the blood of Jesus.

 Mark 13:1-8 – The end is coming. Not one stone will be left upon another.

November 22 – CHRIST THE KING?

2 Samuel 23:1-7David’s last words: He has made with me an everlasting covenant.

or Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14Daniel’s apocalypse: the son of man comes in the clouds to the Ancient One and is given dominion and glory and kingship.
 Psalm 132:1-12, (13-18)O Lord, remember David’s hardships and his faithfulness.

or Psalm 93  – Ever since the world began, your throne has been established. (Ps. 93:3)
Revelation 1:4b-8 He is coming on the clouds, and every eye will see him. I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord.
John 18:33-37 Jesus: My kingdom is not of this world. I testify to the truth. Pilate: What is truth?

Wednesday or Thursday November 25/26 – THANKSGIVING

Joel 2:21-27 – Don’t fear O SOIL. Your threshing floors will be full. Your vats will be full with wine and oil.
Psalm 126 The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad indeed. (Ps. 126:4)
1 Timothy 2:1-7 – Pray for public leaders.
Matthew 6:25-33 – Don’t worry about your life… God will provide.

ADVENT – Year C

November 29 – ADVENT 1
Jeremiah 33:14-16

Psalm 25:1-10
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Luke 21:25-36

December 6 –  ADVENT 2
Baruch 5:1-9

or Malachi 3:1-4
Luke 1:68-79
Philippians 1:3-11
Luke 3:1-6

December 13 – Advent 3

Zephaniah 3:14-20
 Isaiah 12:2-6
Philippians 4:4-7
Luke 3:7-18

December 20 – Advent 4
Micah 5:2-5a
Luke 1:47-55

or Psalm 80:1-7
 Hebrews 10:5-10

Luke 1:39-45, (46-55)