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Bishop Michael Rinehart

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November 2009

12/6/09 is Advent 2C

Dear Gulf Coast Leaders,

 

December 6 –  ADVENT 2C
Baruch 5:1-9Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,
   and put on for ever the beauty of the glory from God.

 

 

 In our Prayers

  • The family of Pastor Laurie Juull, visitation pastor Faith Dickinson (former pastor of St. Stephen’s Pearland) who died shortly after midnight this Saturday morning from pneumonia and complications related to lung cancer. Funeral will be Wednesday, December 2, 10 a.m. at Faith, Dickinson. Graveside at Mt. Olivet in Dickinson. Luncheon reception following the graveside service. Visitation is at Crowder Funeral Home on Tuesday, December 1, 5-7 p.m.  In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to Faith, Dickinson.Please pray for his wife Adrienne and family.
  • Pastor Cheng His Pan as he grieves the death of his mother, who died peacefully Saturday morning (US time). Pastor Pan (former pastor of Chinese Lutheran, Houston) went to Taiwan last Sunday (11/22) to visit his 92-year-old mother, who had been ill for a while.
  • Pastor John DeYoung (Holy Trinity, Houston) as he grieves the death of his brother Bob.
  • Pastor John Boldt (Hosanna, Houston) recovering from surgery.
  • Ben Lake, son of Pastor Chris & Katherine Lake (Tree of Life, Conroe) is recovering well at Children’s Hospital from his second open heart surgery on Wednesday. Ben may come home tomorrow.

The Pope and JDDJ

Note the documents by Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Kasper which are pasted in full in my previous post, after this post, below.

 

"We are received and redeemed by God; our

 existence is inscribed on the horizon of grace, it is guided by a

 merciful God, who forgives our sin and calls us to a new life

 following his Son; we live from the grace of God and we are called to

 respond to his gift; all this liberates us from fear and infuses hope

 and courage in us in a world full of uncertainty, anxiety and suffering."

 

 The Pontiff noted how his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, called the day of the signing a "milestone in the difficult path to reconstitute full unity among Christians."

 

 "This anniversary, therefore, is an occasion to recall the truth about

 man’s justification, testified together, to come together in

 ecumenical celebrations and to reflect further on this and other

 topics that are the object of the ecumenical dialogue," Benedict XVI

 affirmed. "It is my heartfelt hope that this important anniversary

 will contribute to make us progress on the path toward the full and

 visible unity of all the disciples of Christ."

 

Pope Benedict XVI, on the anniversary of the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification between the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation.

 

"I hope that there can be even more movement for the unity of the Church, the cohesion of Christianity and for common witness…"

 

Cardinal Walter Casper, interviewed in Wittenburg on 1 November while attending a ceremony seeking closer ties on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation coming in 2017.

 

Books You must read

·         Sticky Church (Leadership Network Innovation Series) – This book connects natural, organic evangelism with spiritual growth, through small groups that deepen relationships and conversation.

·         Living Together As Lutherans: Unity Within Diversity – This book, written by the three presiding bishops of the ELCA outlines the vision and history of Lutheran unity.

·         Beyond Cheap Grace: A Call to Radical Discipleship, Incarnation, and Justice – This book bemoans cheap grace and an armchair version of Christianity, showing why faith and social justice cannot be separated.

·         Luther and the Hungry Poor: Gathered Fragments – This book highlights many of Luther’s not-so-often-read works on the economy. Torvend discusses the economic implications of the Reformation and the church’s bilking of the poor through indulgences.

 

 Houston Lutheran-Methodist Full Communion Celebration

The Houston celebration of the Lutheran-Methodist Full Communion will be Sunday, January 17, 2010, 4 p.m. at St. Paul’s United Methodist, Houston. Bishop Janice Huie and Mike Rinehart presiding. This takes place on the first day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, a great time to celebrate our unity in Christ.

 

Prepare

 

People will summarize your life in one sentence.

Write it now. (John Maxwell)

 

Malachi announces that the Lord is coming, and a scout will be sent ahead to prepare the way. The Hebrew word for “messenger” is “malachi” (מַלְאָכִי). And if we interpret this to be “angel,” we must consider all those passages in the Bible in which surprise visitors end up being divine messengers. We must also realize that Malachi/messenger/angel, is part of the gospel: evangelion. And evangelism: to be messengers, to bring good news.

 

 But before you get too excited, read what Malachi says:

 

2But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.* (Malachi 3:2-3)

Why won’t we be able to endure the day of his coming? Read on past the appointed lesson:

 

 Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow, and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:5)

 

Ouch. Sorcerers, adulterers and liars. Then, those who oppress the poor, widows, orphans and aliens. How we treat aliens (legal or otherwise) matters to God. So important, in fact, the word “alien” appears over 100 times in the Bible (about ten times as often as another topic being debated these days). For more reading on Malachi, check out A Valentine for Those Who Fear Yahweh:  The Book of Malachi.  By Ralph W. Klein (LSTC):

 

Presumably then, the way we prepare for the Lord’s coming is to not be in the sorcerer-adulterer-liar-oppressor zone. John, whom we interpret to be messenger, bears this out. After multiple ways to ground these events squarely in human history (Tiberius’ 15th year, Pontius Pilate governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, etc.) Luke tells us John comes on the scene saying, “Prepare the way of the Lord.”

 

In next week’s gospel reading (vv. 7-18) people will ask him what he means. “Was ist das?” Or more pointedly: “What should we do?” His advice: Share your stuff. Don’t cheat people. Be happy with what you have. Don’t get caught up in materialism.

 

Advent is the beginning of the church year, but it comes at the end of the calendar year. It’s ironic that John’s warnings about materialism fall in the middle of the holiday shopping season. As we hear about last things, it’s a great time to think of life and ministry with the end in mind.

 

People will summarize your life in one sentence.

Write it now. (John Maxwell)

 

A worthy use of devotional time is reading Luke and then asking the same question they asked John the Baptist: What should we do? God, what are you asking of me?

 

A worthy use of prayer time is to read Malachi and contemplate: How am I preparing the way of the Lord? What sentence do you want people to use when they summarize your life? Are you living it?

 

And for those of us who are ministry leaders: What sentence would you like people to use when summarizing your church’s ministry, when all is said and done? No wait, how about just for 2010? What would you like them to say about your congregation in 2010? What are your greatest hopes and dreams for your congregation next year? What are God’s hopes and dreams for your congregation? Time to dream. Vision is the rudder of the ship.

 

I  invite you to pray about your goals for your congregation in 2010. Then next week, I’ll do a survey in which you can anonymously post your top three goals/hopes and dreams. It will be interesting to see what the consensus is. Our job in the synod office is to help you get there. I have a pretty good idea of what we’ll hear. It’s been pretty consistent. But let’s consider this a test.

 

Then, let’s spend 2010 preparing the way of the Lord.

 

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

 

ADVENT – Year C

Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,
   and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God. 
– Baruch 5

December 13 – Advent 3C

Thoughts: First Song of Isaiah by Jack Noble White.

December 20 – Advent 4C
Micah 5:2-5aBut you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.
Luke 1:47-55Magnificat: And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior…”

or Psalm 80:1-7 – Hear O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock: “Restore us!”
 Hebrews 10:5-10when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; 6in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.

Luke 1:39-45, (46-55) – Mary and Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb.

 

CHRISTMAS – Year C

And the Word became flesh…

December 27 – Christmas  1C

December 27 – St. John Apostle – This rarely falls on a Sunday. A great day to lift up John’s high Christology, and vision of God’s love.

Genesis 1:1-5, 26-31
Psalm 116
1 John 1:1 – 2:2
John 21:20-25 – The last verses of John. Peter’s jealousy of the disciple Jesus loved. This text appears nowhere else in the three-year lectionary but here.

 

January 3 – Christmas  2C

Wednesday, January 6 – Epiphany

 

 



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Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogs

> Amidst talk of schism, mainstream Lutherans and Catholics are > working towards unity. Note these messages from the Pope and > Cardinal Kaspar.

Mike
>

>

>

11/29/09 is Advent 1C

Dear Gulf Coast Leaders,

 

November 29 – ADVENT 1C
Jeremiah 33:14-16 – I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

 

In our Prayers

· Larry Juull is in the hospital in Clear Lake (on Hwy 3). Beth Marie Halvorsen and I stopped to see him today. Collapsed left lung, led them to find a tumor in his lung. Right now he’s also battling pneumonia. Please keep him in your prayers.

· Ben Lake, son of Pastor Chris & Katherine Lake (Tree of Life, Conroe) will be having his second open heart surgery on Wednesday. Prayer vigil this Tuesday at Tree of Life. pastorlake@gmail.com.

 

 Houston Lutheran-Methodist Full Communion Celebration

The Houston celebration of the Lutheran-Methodist Full Communion will be Sunday, January 17, 2010, 4 p.m. at St. Paul’s United Methodist, Houston. Bishop Janice Huie and Mike Rinehart presiding. This takes place on the first day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This will be a great time to celebrate our unity in Christ.

 

Books You MUST read

Sticky Church (Leadership Network Innovation Series)

 

Zion Galveston

Zion had worship for the first time together this Sunday in their new, refurbished worship space thanks to incredible work by congregational president Anthony. Some of you may rememeber meeting there last year for the Galveston Work Day (Say 10-4 to 10/4, from 10 to 4). 75 people gathered to see the “rebirth.” Pastor Kerry Nelson was present, as well as Pastor Sharon Burns, and AIM Karen Davidson who grew up there. Pastor Beth Marie Halvorsen served Zion from 1980 to 1984, about a five-year first call. She met her husband Russell there.Pastor Gerry Westerbuhr was also present. He served Zion from 1997 to 2005 or so. This congregation was a Swedish congregation founded in 1890. Some of them sang Children of the Heavenly Father from memory today during communion, in Swedish. The choir from Faith Dickinson came and sang. Next week may be more of a challenge, as many of the folks there are now members of other congregations in Dickinson, Santa Fe and other places. Keep this congregation in your prayers as they pray about their mission and ministry.

 

Being Church Together

 

It comes down to what you believe: Is it better to work together, or separately?

 

As this broken bread was once scattered on the mountains,

and after it had been brought together became one,

so may thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth unto thy kingdom;

for thine is the glory, and the power, through Jesus Christ, for ever. 

  Didache 9:4

 

At the Institute of Liturgical Studies a few years ago, I recall Gordon Lathrop quoting this passage that we often sing after the offering, and saying, “The Holy Spirit gathers. Satan scatters.” This has always stuck in my mind. As wheat is gathered from the hills into one loaf, so the Holy Spirit gathers together and bakes into one loaf the diverse peoples of God.

 

This week CORE announced they were starting a new denomination. This got me to thinking about the various attempts at Lutheran unity over the years. Germans populated the East Coast forming a pastor-led ULCA that eventually became the LCA. Scandinavian Lutherans populated the upper-midwest with a less hierarchical form of Lutheranism that eventaully led to the ALC. Saxon immigrants to Missouri formed the LCMS that suffered from schism leading the AELC. A long-awaited vision for Lutheran unity had loomed since the Schmucker days, and now seemed within grasp with the centripetal forces of the newly-emerging ELCA.

But since then the centrifugal forces of separatism have whittled away at this vision. It seems every time a decision of any kind is made, another group breaks off and forms a new Lutheran body. For example following the 1999 vote for CCM, a full-communion agreement with the Episcopal Church, in 2000 LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ) was formed for congregations that wanted radical congregational polity. LCMC has about 200 congregations in the U.S.

 

he 2005 ELCA Yearbook lists 25 Lutheran bodies in the United States. The Fellowship of Lutheran Christians (FLC) broke off from the Lutheran Churches of the Reformation (LCR), which split from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC) organized in 1987 in opposition to the ELCA.  They wanted an infallible Bible. Within one year, a group split from the AALC to form the Lutheran Synod and Ministerium in the USA (LSMUSA?), which itself experienced schism in the 1990’s to form the Evangelical Lutheran Conference and Ministerium in North America (ELCMNA?). Sigh.

 

So writes H. George Anderson (along with Herbert Chilstrom and Mark Hanson) in Living Together As Lutherans: Unity Within Diversity Augsburg Fortress © 2008. A must read for unity-minded Lutherans.

 

On their web page, The Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (ALFC) claims to be the fourth-largest Lutheran body on (after ELCA, LCMS and WELS). They have 275 congregations (7 in Texas) and five missionaries. LCR has 13 pastors on their clergy roster, and no congregations in Texas. The AALC has 84 congregations; none in Texas. ELCMNA it’s hard to tell how many congregations. Some are missions being led by licensed ministers (http://www.elcm.org/elcm_directory.html). It looks like five congregations and two missions?

 

Please don’t misunderstand. The small isn’t bad. Sometimes its good. Large organizations can be slowed by bureaucracy. But they can also do things small groups can’t do. (Like provide $1M in post-Katrina support for New Orleans congregations.) You can look at the websites and be the judge. Not bad, just… sad. Isn’t it?

 

Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.

1 Corinthians 1:10

 

It comes back to what you believe: Is it better to be together or separate? I prefer together. I believe that unity speaks well of Christianity. Unity is fun. It can be intoxicating to see people coming together. On the other hand, the more we bicker, the more our witness to the world is hampered.

 

I’m deeply grateful for this synod. We’ve come together a lot of late. 400 people working together in Galveston knocked my socks off. I think we’re just starting to taste the opportunities and serendipity that comes when we let down our guard a little and learn to cooperate. I’m deeply grateful that we’ve not had one congregation vote to leave our synod. I know it’s probably coming, but we’ve made it this far. And I’m just… there’s no other word: grateful.

 

Thank you.

 

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

ADVENT – Year C

Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,
and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God. 
– Baruch 5

 

December 6 –  ADVENT 2C
Baruch 5:1-9Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,
and put on for ever the beauty of the glory from God.

December 13 – Advent 3C

Thoughts: First Song of Isaiah by Jack Noble White.

 

December 20 – Advent 4C
Micah 5:2-5aBut you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.
Luke 1:47-55Magnificat: And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior…”

or Psalm 80:1-7 – Hear O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock: “Restore us!”
 Hebrews 10:5-10when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; 6in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.

Luke 1:39-45, (46-55) – Mary and Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb.

 

CHRISTMAS – Year C

And the Word became flesh…

 

 

December 27 – Christmas  1C

 

December 27 – St. John Apostle – This rarely falls on a Sunday. A great day to lift up John’s high Christology, and vision of God’s love.

Genesis 1:1-5, 26-31
Psalm 116
1 John 1:1 – 2:2
John 21:20-25 – The last verses of John. Peter’s jealousy of the disciple Jesus loved. This text appears nowhere else in the three-year lectionary but here.

 

January 3 – Christmas  2C

 

Wednesday, January 6 – Epiphany


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11/22/09 is Christ the King

 

Dear Gulf Coast Leaders,

 

 November 22 – CHRIST THE KING

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

or Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 Daniel’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 18:33-37Jesus: 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.

 

 

 

 

 

In Our prayers:

  • Ben Lake, son of Pastor Chris & Katherine Lake (Pastor at Tree of Life, Conroe) will be having his second open heart surgery on November 25th. Prayer vigil November 24th, Tree of Life Lutheran located at 3201 Loop 336 SW, Conroe, TX 77305. 4-10 p.m. pastorlake@gmail.com.

Just a note

Thank you for your ministry and collegiality. As always, I’m humbled by the faith and expanse of the church. FYI, I’m still having trouble with our new listserv provider. Let me know if anything looks funky or missing.

Houston Lutheran-Methodist Full Communion Celebration

The Houston celebration of the Lutheran-Methodist Full Communion will be Sunday, January 17, 2010, 4 p.m. at St. Paul’s United Methodist, Houston. Bishop Janice Huie and Mike Rinehart presiding. This takes place on the first day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This will be a great time to celebrate our unity in Christ.

 

Survey Monkey on the Krentz Event

Whether you attended the event or not, please take a moment and answer these nine questions about your interest in future events: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=pLBTvvopbg1zvg1rib5CLA_3d_3d

Results thus far: 12 responses. 75% by those who attended the event. 100% of those who didn’t attend said they simply were not available. No one responded that the time was inconvenient or that they were uninterested in the topic or speaker.

  • 100% said the event was helpful.
  • 70% said the speaker was “excellent.” The other 30% said “good.”
  • 90% rated the topic “excellent.” The other 10% said it was “good.”
  • 72.2% said the location was “excellent.” The rest said it was “good.”
  • 72.2% said the cost/value was “excellent.” The rest said it was “good.”
  • 100% said they’d like to see events like this in the future.
  • There were 9 comments. Several “thank yous.”
  • One said, “This is the best theological event I’ve attended in years!!”
  • One said, “I hope that the Synod will bring folks like Joan Chittister, Richard Rohr, Marcus Borg, Tilden Edwards and folks from the Shalem Institute and Father Laurence from the World Community for Christian Meditation.”

The event collected $2260 in registration fees. Costs were $2270, with a $1000 honorarium to the speaker, which may be low for a week. Some folks are willing to come for free to get out of the cold for a week in Texas. But we’ll have to raise the price in the future with this kind of presentation if we want someone of, say, Joan Chittister’s caliber. We had, I think, about 6 in New Orleans, 12 in Houston and 23 in Brenham. Go Brenham! Dr. Krentz met with our Synodically Authorized Lay Ministers on Saturday too.

Christ, El Campo

Synod Council (which gathers 4-6 times a year) meets around the synod to get to know congregations. November’s meeting was held this past Friday and Saturday with the gracious hospitality of Christ Lutheran in El Campo. Pastor Jake Fain (pictured to the right, looking hip in his car) is in his first call there, only four months. They’re going from communion on the first and third Sundays to communion every Sunday next month. Jake and his wife Melissa grew up in San Antonio. They have two kids: Emma (4) and Nathan (under a year).

St. Peter’s, Gay Hill (Brenham) and First Sommerville

This Sunday was St. Peter’s 125th anniversary. St. Peter’s (average attendance 120)shares a pastor with First Sommerville (average attendance 32). Pastor Alan Kethan has a service at 7:15 a.m. at St. Peters! Then he drives 15 minutes to Sommerville for the 8:30 service. Then back to St. Peter’s for a 10:00 service. Yikes.

In the late 1800’s there was an explosion of Lutheran churches in the Brenham area:


  • Eben, Ezer (Berlin), 1854
  • Salem (Salem), 1856
  • Bethlehem (William Penn), 1860
  • St. James (New Wehdem), 1869
  • Salem (Welcome), 1869
  • Zion (Zionsville), 1870
  • St. Paul (Rehburg), 1870
  • Immanuel (Wiedeville), 1871
  • St. John (Prairie Hill), 1877
  • Emmanuel (Greenvine), 1884
  • St. Peter (Gay Hill), 1884
  • St. Matthew (Sandy Hill), 1887
  • St. Paul (Phillipsburg), 1890
  • St. Paul (Brenham), 1890

This is hard for me to get my mind around. 14 churches in 36 years. That’s planting one church every 2.5 years. Every congregation in Brenham was founded in the late 1800s, except Christ, Brenham (1964). Of course, these churches were receiving immigrants. Truth be told, many of our churches are still perfectly tuned to receive German immigrants. Beer, sausages, dance halls and Blue Bell. And good traditional life, with all the benefits and challenges that presents.

The picture above, right, gives you a feel for how traditional these long-established congregations are. This Sunday school board is in the front transept of the nave (worship space), for all to see every Sunday. There are 85 children enrolled in Sunday School. This week there were 44 children in Sunday School. Last week 59. Most urban and suburban congregations are struggling with Sunday School, but in some rural and small town communities, SS is alive and well. The offering is the Sunday School offering, a way to teach tithing to children.

Pastor Alan Kethan’s grandfather served this congregation many years ago. Pastor Virgil Pecht served St. Peter’s from 1975 to 2006, 31.5 years! Pastor Pecht is retired and helps out at St. John’s (Prairie Hill). His (3?) daughters are still members at St. Peters. Alan came in 2006.

After worship, a reception was held at the Washington County Community Center. Former Synod Council member Darrell Reimer is a member at SP. I asked him how many of these folks he was related to. He said, “Oh, about one third.” It’s also hard to imagine a church where nearly half the members are family, but this is the case in Brenham more often than not. This reception was more like a Reimer/Gaskamp family reunion. Lots of prizes for the children made it feel like a fun family event.

Rethinking Your Prayer Life at the End of the Church Year

As we draw towards the end of the church year, perhaps it’s time for a new groove.

Over the years our prayer lives morph. There are different patterns for different seasons of life. Here’s a simple pattern your could try on for size if you’re looking for something new to spark your prayer life.

Four parts:

1. PRAYER FOR THE NEW DAY
2. JOURNAL YESTERDAY
3. SCRIPTURE (&/OR DEVO MATERIAL)
    a. Read
    b. Silence
    c. Write reflections
4. PRAYERS FOR FAM, CONG, ETC.

The fruit of Silence is Prayer.
The fruit of Prayer is Faith.
The fruit of Faith is Love.
The fruit of Love is Service.
The fruit of Service is Peace
— Mother Teresa

An unexamined life is not worth living.
—Socrates

If the only prayer we ever prayed was “Thank you,” it would be enough.
— Meister Eckhardt  

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isa. 40:31)  

1. PRAYER FOR THE NEW DAY

When you wake up in the morning, grab a cup of coffee and find your way to the sofa or porch. Find a good place where you can go each day. If you go to the same place repeatedly, over time, just being in that place will calm your spirit and put you in a prayerful mood.

For a couple of years my place has been the living room sofa. Even the dog knows it and sometimes is waiting for me there when I arrive. When Yuliana wakes, she often comes to cuddle while I pray. It has become sacred space.

Begin with a short prayer like the one below, or write your own. In a short time it will be memorized and become part of your consciousness. Luther says to cross yourself and remember your baptism.

Almighty and everlasting God, you have brought us in safety to this new day. Preserve us by your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome in adversity, and in all we do direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  

2. JOURNAL YESTERDAY

Reflect on yesterday. Examine your life. Write one paragraph starting with the word “Yesterday…”

Often I wake up with something on my mind. We mull things over in our sleep. Things rise to the surface. I consider this the work of the Spirit, and of the spirit. Listen. Capture the work. What is God saying?

This morning I woke up with a crystal clear sense that something I had been putting off, needed to be attended to today. It turned out to be true. Had I barrelled into the day without reflection this fleeting sense on the edge of my waking consciousness might have been lost. Prayer is about listening for God’s voice.

Your prayer for the new day takes one minute. This journaling part can take 5 minutes if your morning schedule is tight, but for me usually takes more. The morning I wrote this, I journaled for 25 minutes.

Don’t journal the whole day. Your goal is not your exhaustive memoirs, but attentiveness to the Spirit. Skim off the cream that rises to the surface.

By the way, I have never, ever, had a devotional life on Sunday. I’ve tried. I commend those of you who do/can. Worship is my devotion.

3. SCRIPTURE

God speaks through Scripture. Read a portion of Scripture. At times I have let the lectionary guide my daily reading, but I prefer to have readings beyond sermon preparation. We do enough skipping around as it is. It’s nice to read a book through. Some epistles can be read in 10-15 minutes. If you have more time (perhaps a day off), The gospels can (and should) be read in one sitting. It takes less than an hour. Our fractured reading of Scripture muddies the unique plot and character development of each of the gospels.

God speaks through Scripture, though not in the literal, two-dimensional way people seem to be using the Bible in this current time. We listen not to the text only, but through  the text to what God is saying to us. After reading take some time for silence and let it sink in. Thoughts will emerge. Chase them. Questions will emerge. Go back and read it again to check your query. Sermon ideas will form. Write them down in your journal.  If you have time, go for a walk and ponder the text.

Sometimes I’ll use this to read the Spiritual Classics as well. A portion of Scripture then a passage of St. John of the Cross, or C.S. Lewis.

Write a sentence or two in your journal: what passage you read and what thoughts emerged.

4. PRAYERS

Finally pray intercessions. I pray for my family and for the congregations of this synod, then for specific requests like Phil Oestreich’s family, or Ben Lake, or Kerry Nelson’s son. You might keep a congregational photo directory with your Bible at your chair. Pray a page a day. Visualize your people as you pray. Stuff will come to mind. Be prepared to write things down as they rise to the surface. You will find yourself inclined to call some of the people for whom you pray.

As you can see this could take a very long time. Luther spoke of praying for three hours at times. Don’t cheat your prayer time because you’re busy with too many tasks. Prayer will impact the tasks you choose to do, and it will shape the way you do them. Nevertheless, prayers can also be disciplined into 30 minutes. We humans are constrained by time. The bus. The office. The spouse. One minute for the opening prayer, and ten minutes for each of the other three parts makes 31 minutes. It can be done, and sometimes it must. Better to have a short prayer time than no prayer time.

Starting the day like this makes all the difference. It’s like starting a journey in the right direction.

Give it a try. Adapt it to your needs and situation. Just do it. Make time for God. We need to empty ourselves to be led. As Mother Teresa said, “God cannot fill what is already full.”

 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

www.twitter.com/breadtweet

www.bishopmike.posterous.com

 

ADVENT – Year C

Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,
   and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God. 
– Baruch 5

 

November 29 – ADVENT 1C
Jeremiah 33:14-16 – I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

Psalm 25:1-10 – Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 – And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you.
Luke 21:25-36 – There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves.

December 6 –  ADVENT 2C
Baruch 5:1-9Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,
   and put on for ever the beauty of the glory from God.

or Malachi 3:1-4 – See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.
Luke 1:68-79 – Zechariah. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
Philippians 1:3-11 – I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
Luke 3:1-6John the Baptist: As written in the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord.’”


December 13 – Advent 3C

Zephaniah 3:14-20 – Sing aloud, O daughter Zion… The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies.
 Isaiah 12:2-6 – First Song of Isaiah: 2Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.
Philippians 4:4-7Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice!
Luke 3:7-18John the Baptist: You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?

Thoughts: First Song of Isaiah by Jack Noble White.

 

December 20 – Advent 4C
Micah 5:2-5aBut you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.
Luke 1:47-55Magnificat: And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior…”

or Psalm 80:1-7 – Hear O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock: “Restore us!”
 Hebrews 10:5-10when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; 6in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.

Luke 1:39-45, (46-55) – Mary and Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb.

CHRISTMAS – Year C

And the Word became flesh…

 

December 24/25 – NATIVITY OF OUR LORD (three choices)

Isaiah 9:2-7 / Isaiah 62:6-12 / Isaiah 52:7-10
Psalm 96 / Psalm 97 / Psalm 98
Titus 2:11-14 / Titus 3:4-7 / Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12)
Luke 2:1-14, (15-20) / Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20 / John 1:1-14

 

December 27 – Christmas  1C

1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26
Psalm 148
Colossians 3:12-17
Luke 2:41-52

 

December 27 – St. John Apostle – This rarely falls on a Sunday. A great day to lift up John’s high Christology, and vision of God’s love.

Genesis 1:1-5, 26-31
Psalm 116
1 John 1:1 – 2:2
John 21:20-25 – The last verses of John. Peter’s jealousy of the disciple Jesus loved. This text appears nowhere else in the three-year lectionary but here.

 

January 3 – Christmas  2C

Jeremiah 31:7-14 / Sirach 24:1-12
Psalm 147:12-20 / Wisdom of Solomon 10:15-21
Ephesians 1:3-14
John 1:(1-9), 10-18

 

Wednesday, January 6 – Epiphany

November 15 is Pentecost 24B

Dear Gulf Coast Leaders,

 

Three more Sundays until Advent: This coming Sunday (the 8th), the widow’s mite, a dynamite stewardship text. Next Sunday (the 15th): The end is coming. No stone will be left upon another. And Christ the King (the 22nd): My kingdom is not of this world.

 

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.

In our Prayers

· Fort Hood Families. Chaplain Richard Brunk says most affected families are called-up reservists, so the families are not on base, but spread around the country.

· Brian Gigi, recovering.

· Michael Nelson, Kerry Nelson’s son, recovering from a traffic accident.

· Larry Juull collapsed lung and cancer. Larry told me, “Bishop, I think I can lick this thing.”

· Family of Phil Oestreich and Pastor Clarence Ostreich (La Grange) at the death of Phil’s daughter.

· Ben Lake, son of Pastor Chris & Katherine Lake (Pastor at Tree of Life, Conroe) will be having his second open heart surgery on November 18th tentative. Prayer vigil November 17th, Tree of Life Lutheran located at 3201 Loop 336 SW, Conroe, TX 77305. 4-10 p.m. pastorlake@gmail.com.

 

Fort Hood

I’ve spoken with Chaplain Brunk daily. He’s been swamped, and had very little sleep. I know a few congregations took offerings to support the families of those affected by the shooting. Today I was a Spirit of Joy, where they collected $1,000 as a love offering over and above their regular offerings. If you wish to do so, donations can be made out to the Chaplain’s Fund and sent to:

Chaplain’s Fund

c/o CH (MAJ) Oscar Arauco

Garrison Chaplain’s Office

Bldg 44, 761st Tank Battalion Ave.

Fort Hood, TX 76544-5000

Support and encouragement can be sent to Chaplain Brunk at the same address: c/o CH (LTC) Richard Brunk. The CH means chaplain, and the LTC signifies Lieutenant Colonel.

It’s amazing how things tie together. Brian Gigee, in our prayers today, is pastor of New Life Pearland. One of the congregations that merged to become New Life was St. Stephen’s Pearland. Pastor Larry Juull, also in our prayers, was pastor at St. Stephen’s. I found out yesterday, talking with Larry J, that Chaplain Richard Brunk at Fort Hood, was an associate pastor with Pastor Juull at St. Stephens. Six degrees of separation. Sometimes less.

Piano Available

A studio piano is available for free. The only cost would be having it moved. If you are interested, contact the synod office. The piano is about 50 years old and in good condition. Holds its tune well. It’s an Acrosonic built by Baldwin.

Houston Lutheran-Methodist Full Communion Celebration

The Houston celebration of the Lutheran-Methodist Full Communion will be Sunday, January 18, 2010, 4 p.m. at St. Paul’s United Methodist, Houston. Bishop Janice Huie and Mike Rinehart presiding. This takes place on the first day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This will be a great time to celebrate our unity in Christ.

 

Become a Contagious Christian – THIS WEEK

Becoming a Contagious Christian is a six-week evangelism training program. Learn all about it Saturday, November 14, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Salem, Brenham. For fliers and bulletin inserts, contact Pastor Charles Parnell, 979-836-9320 or pastorchp@aol.com.

Family Camp

This week we had Family Camp at Lutherhill. They do a super job. Families from Kinsmen Houston, Christ the King Houston, Shepherd of the Hills Austin and other places took part. Coming up are the upper elementary Advent Retreat and the junior high Advent Retreat. To sign up for the advent retreats go to: http://www.lutherhill.org/forms/LH_Retreat_Reg_Form.pdf


 

Luke and Krentz

There I sat with 23 Brenham pastors hearing from Dr. Ed Krentz, who only seems to have gained acumen over the years. I haven’t yet heard the turnout and finances of Dr. Krentz’ visit to our synod from Pastor Art Preisinger or Mandy Faucett, who coordinated things, but the Brenham turnout was more than I expected. We had written a budget based on 15 in New Orleans, 15 in Brenham and 30 in Houston. 60 total x $50 is a $3,000 budget. Out of that has to come everyone’s lunch, and then our speaker’s housing, food, airfare and honorarium. Between the 23 at Brenham and the seven at New Orleans we might have made the 30 we were looking for. Houston at 60 might be a stretch. How many feel the value of this will determine how often we can do this, and who we can bring. My hope is that we could bring in the best theologians and Biblical scholars in the country.

Whether you attended or not, please take a moment and answer these nine questions about the Krentz event and your interest in future events: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=pLBTvvopbg1zvg1rib5CLA_3d_3d

What I enjoyed most about Dr. Krentz’ presentation was his bird’s-eye view of Luke’s gospel. He brought much clarity to Luke’s perspective by not allowing us to mix our gospels.

One of the most interesting suggestions he had was to change the lectionary to include more of Act in the epistle readings. He reminded us that the story in Acts is essential for understanding the Jesus of Luke, and what he means. The lectionary is not inspired, of course, so we’re free to depart from it. Not nearly enough of Acts shows up in the C lectionary. Why not have second lessons come from Acts, especially during the teaching half of the lectionary?

Another suggestion was to use Advent I to introduce Luke, and the Lukan lectionary year. Krentz:

If I was preaching on Advent 1, I would announce as my text the entire gospel. I wouldn’t read it. But I would announce that’s where we’re going to be this year. I would encourage people to read the entire gospel in one sitting. It could show them there is movement and plot. I would center my adult forum around studying Luke.

After all, this Sunday we begin the various apocalyptic “the end is near” texts. By the time we get through Christ the King Sunday, our congregations might be ready for something else. [For ideas on apocalyptic themes check out my 10/25 post at http://bishopmike.posterous.com/. Talking about the end of the world is a great time to talk about things that matter. If the end of the world was coming tomorrow, which conversations, which initiatives, which relationships really matter?]

Tradition holds Luke died in Bithynia at 74. Matthew and Mark (Italy) had already written their gospels. Tradition holds Luke wrote from Achaia (Greece). This tradition may not be right, but this reminds us that this gospel was written for the Greek-speaking world. The fact the gospel was written by Luke is a tradition. His name never appears in the text.

Luke adds a 28-chapter book to his gospel, that none of the other gospel writers do. Acts is only a separate book because there was a limit to how long scrolls could be.

At the outset, Mark jumps right into John the Baptist. Matthew jumps into a genealogy. Luke starts out like a good Hellenistic historian. He grounds us in history. Compare his opening to that of Josephus, Contra Apionem 1.1-5.

Luke tells us he is inspired by the eye-witnesses. He has his own sources. Consider that passages that we would not have without Luke’s gospel: The Good Samaritan, for example. And the Prodigal Son.

Luke is the only gospel that mentions any Roman Emperors. Without Luke we couldn’t date anything. Luke is the only one who coordinates the gospel with secular and history.

·         Caesar Augustus

·         Tiberius

·         Claudius (Acts 18)

Dr. Krentz gave us a snapshot of Roman society, so that we could see more clearly Luke’s understand of how the gospel impacts it:

The Lensky model (James Malcolm Arlandson) of Roman social stratification, from top down:

1.                   Emperor

2.                   Governing Classes/ Urban elite (wealth, status, power)

3.                   Merchants and traders (urban) and freeholders (rural)

a.       Upper-level small freeholders (15-50 acres) – you could live on what you grow

b.      Lower-level small freeholders (4-15 acres) – if you had a good crop you could exist. With a drought you would lose your land and move down into the tenant farmer (below)

4.                   Artisans (urban – like Paul, who probably made saddles and tents) and tenants (rural – Luke has a number of stories about tenant farmers and day laborers, below)

5.                   Day Laborers and landless peasants

6.                   Slaves

7.                   Expendable people: prostitutes, gladiators, actors

For more on this Dr. Krentz recommended Joachim Jeremias’ Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus.

Advent: John the Baptist is considered by Luke to be the last of the OT prophets. Hosea: mercy not sacrifice. I will not smell your sacrifices. Emphasis on life. Luke’s John the Baptist: Do not presume to say we have Abraham as our father. Ethnicity will get you nowhere.

Luke 4 – In Luke Jesus doesn’t start by calling the disciples. The first story is his preaching in the Synagogue at Nazareth. Synagogue liturgy was pretty simple. The Shemah, a recitation of the blessings of God (18 now, but not back then). Then the priest says the Aaronic blessing. “Will you please break the law?” says the preist. This doesn’t mean transgress, but open and read. Afterwards the priest asks, “Have you a word of exhortation?” In other words, time for a homily. Since there’s synagogue on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, in a small village you get to know what people are going to say. So it wouldn’t be out of place for them to ask Jesus to say a few works. Jesus says, “Today this passage has been fulfilled in your midst.” Jesus picks out two non-Israelites that get healed in the OT. This makes them so mad they want to kill him. At the outset, Jesus’ ministry is about the he poor, the gentile, the prisoner. Or as Capon likes to put it: the Least, the Last and the Lost. These are motifs that run through the rest of Luke/Acts.

Luke gives us the three great songs:  Benedictus, Magnificat, and Nunc Dimittis. Then we get the salvation narratives: It’s all the wrong people that get saved. The eunuch cannot go into the temple. The beggar cannot go through the gate. The sermon on the plain begins with four beatitudes. It is the poor, not the poor in spirit. It is the economically deprived. This sermon is followed by the parables: prodigal son, good Samaritan, great banquet, rich fool, two sons, unjust steward, persistent widow. Luke is driving home a point.

Krentz: “If I had one phrase to describe Luke/Acts it would be ‘Turning the world upside down.’”

In Luke, Jesus hangs around the poor. In Acts we meet rich Christians. Barnabas who gives his estate to the church. In Acts we see how rich Christians interact with the poor. Widows are among the poor, with no husband to care for them. Women are both a problem and a glory in Luke. Like Luke 7 when Jesus is in Simon the Pharisee’s house and a woman dries Jesus’ feet with her hair. In first century Palestine, a Jewish woman on the street should be so heavily clothed that a male from her family should not be able to recognize her. Your hair should never been shown in public. Jesus is not troubled by any of this. She is forgiven because she loves much. Or is it the other way around?

Women are treasured. Women follow Jesus around and even support his ministry. Everyone knows women shouldn’t be out in the countryside following this man around. He destroys families. In Acts it’s a woman who becomes the apostle’s sponsor in Philippi. Likewise, in Luke/Acts Samaritans are treasured, not rejected.

I’m wondering if Advent I (November 29) might be a time to make people hungry for Luke/Acts. Luke can be read in 45 minutes. Some may take longer if they dwell or ponder, which the texts of course encourage. It’s safe to say an hour. I find Acts takes longer for some reason, perhaps because the stories aren’t so familiar to those who have been listening to gospel readings their whole lives.

I struggle to keep in mind that many people in church have not grown up going to church every Sunday, and might not be as familiar with Luke as I am. Certainly pastors who have studied the gospels intimately feel at home with these images. Many people don’t. The ideas emerge from a time and cultural context that is entirely foreign. But a little word-painting can make them come alive. And then it’s not hard to tease out the implications for our time and cultural context.

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited about this coming Lukan year. I’m also intrigued by Krentz’ idea of coming up with a lectionary that uses Luke’s volume 2, Acts, for the epistle readings. Finally, I’m interested in unleashing people on Luke’s stories and images, to see what kinds of surprises the Spirit raises up in them, when the people of God immerse themselves deeply in Scripture.

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

www.twitter.com/breadtweet

www.bishopmike.posterous.com


Time after Pentecost 2009

 

November 22 – CHRIST THE KING

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

or Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 Daniel’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 18:33-37Jesus: 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

Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,
   and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God. 
– Baruch 5

 

November 29 – ADVENT 1C
Jeremiah 33:14-16 – I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

Psalm 25:1-10 – Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 – And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you.
Luke 21:25-36 – There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves.

December 6 –  ADVENT 2C
Baruch 5:1-9Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,
   and put on for ever the beauty of the glory from God.

or Malachi 3:1-4 – See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.
Luke 1:68-79 – Zechariah. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
Philippians 1:3-11 – I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
Luke 3:1-6John the Baptist: As written in the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord.’”

December 13 – Advent 3C

Zephaniah 3:14-20 – Sing aloud, O daughter Zion… The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies.
 Isaiah 12:2-6 – First Song of Isaiah: 2Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.
Philippians 4:4-7Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice!
Luke 3:7-18John the Baptist: You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?

Thoughts: First Song of Isaiah by Jack Noble White.

11/8/09 is Pentecost 23B

Dear Gulf Coast Leaders,

Three more Sundays until Advent: This coming Sunday (the 8th), the widow’s mite, a dynamite stewardship text. Next Sunday (the 15th): The end is coming. No stone will be left upon another. And Christ the King (the 22nd): My kingdom is not of this world.

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

 

All shall be well

and all shall be well

and all manner of thing shall be well.

English Christian mystic, Julian of Norwich (c. 1342– c. 1416)

In our Prayers

·         Betty Hildebrandt, wife of Pastor Walter Hildebrandt recovering from cancer surgery in San Antonio. 1047 Old Dubina Lane, Schulenburg, TX 78956 or wbhildeb@txun.net

·         The Bade Family ~ Upon the death of Heinie Bade, father of Pastor Lawrence Bade (St.Paul’s/Brenham) & John McCullough-Bade (Baton Rouge).

·         Ben Lake, son of Pastor Chris & Katherine Lake (Pastor at Tree of Life, Conroe) will be having his second open heart surgery on November 18th tentative. Prayer vigil November 17th, Tree of Life Lutheran located at 3201 Loop 336 SW, Conroe, TX 77305. 4-10 p.m. pastorlake@gmail.com.

Houston Lutheran-Methodist Full Communion Celebration

The Houston celebration of the Lutheran-Methodist Full Communion will be Sunday, January 18, 2010, 4 p.m. at St. Paul’s United Methodist, Houston. Bishop Janice Huie and Mike Rinehart presiding. This takes place on the first day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This will be a great time to celebrate our unity in Christ.

 

A Law/Gospel look at sexuality

http://www.crossings.org/archive/ed/ReformationResources.pdf

Dr. Ed Krentz – THIS WEEK!

Dr. Krentz will be with us this week in Brenham, Houston and New Orleans. http://gulfcoastsynod.org/2010lentenpericopes.htm.

Become a Contagious Christian – NEXT WEEK

Becoming a Contagious Christian is a six-week evangelism training program. Learn all about it Saturday, November 14, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Salem, Brenham. For fliers and bulletin inserts, contact Pastor Charles Parnell, 979-836-9320 or pastorchp@aol.com.

Luther Seminary

A busy week this week. Bishops make seminary visits once a year. Each year as I approach this I wonder about the value. Afterwards I’m absolutely convinced. There is always a tendency for the academy and those in the trenches to drift apart. Seminex could happen to us. We have to feed back to seminaries what we see, and what we feel pastors-in-training need. The seminaries need the church to know what they’re facing in this changing theological and financial economy.

Tuesday and Wednesday I was at Luther in St. Paul. In 2000 the average age of a sem student was 34. Now it’s 28 and dropping. Luther has 406 MDiv students, including 54 international students (111 international people with families). There are 60 Distance Learning (DL) students in 3 cohorts (groups of 20). Our synod secretary Arthur Murphy is in one of them. President Bliese says they could grow it as fast as they can get cohorts set up, but they have decided to add only one new cohort a year.

DL is half time for four years and full time for two years: Internship and senior year full time. Senior year is full time and can be done online only if candidacy committee approves. 23 synods are represented in the first two cohorts. There’s more on campus time then people think, four weeks a year at the very least. They now have 42 online courses. Even the residential students are taking online courses.

The professors have been very happy with online coursework. No student in an online course can hide. Teaching online is different says Arlen Hultgtren (sp?) who has been teaching NT 30+ years. DL students actually do the readings. In a classroom you’re not sure if they’ve done the reading. You can’t hide online like you can in a classroom. Advantage: students still in context. Disadvantage:  It’s hard to handle difficult topics online. Typing takes a lot of time and energy.

There is a tremendous positive energy here. Things are cooking. There is a passion for leadership development here. They are way open to shifting the paradigm for theological education. It’s SO refreshing!

Interfaith Baton Rouge

Thursday was the Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge Annual Community Prayer Breakfast. St. George Catholic Church. Pastor Robin McCullough-Bade led, in her new position as exec director. Dr. Muhammed Çetin spoke on the Gulen Movement: Civil service without borders. Violence, war and terrorism will not bring about the society we seek. It will only bring poverty, injustice, and hatred. Sound education is the remedy for the ills of society. Voluntary philantropy, selfless service to others, peacemaking. 

(Generosity, Altruism) Tolerance and dialog. Openness of mind and heart.

Bayou (Louisiana) Ministerium

Afterwards I met with the Bayou Ministerium. I learned that Pastor Sean Ewbank (Hosanna, Mandeville) served a congregation that had more on council than in worship. Their constitution called for 37 on council, but worship attendance was in the 20’s for this congregation (of 60?). Pastor Ken Shuman (Galilean, La Place) flew a helicopter in the Viet Nam war. Pastor Amy Zietlow, hospice Chief Operating Officer – COO cares for people in the last six months of life. I learned that the average stay is only 20 days. We heard about LSSS’ new program in Louisiana from Christie Kieshnick. This ministerium is preparing to host our Synod Assembly in May.

LSPS

Friday we had an LSPS board meeting in Austin to map out the future. This institution is committed to developing Latino and Anglo ministry leaders for the future. Without the MDiv which costed more than the school has been able to gather, the TEEM program will be their primary focus. There are some exciting plans in the works for raising up indigenous leaders. Afterwards a goodbye dinner was held for Dr. Wayne Menking, who is serving now as director of Pastoral Care at a medical center in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had…

We live in a society that is in desperate need of giving. I mean to focus not so much on those who need so desperately to receive, but on those who are choking on wealth.

Giving is the way healthy organisms stay healthy. The analogy of the Dead Sea makes the point. Stuff flows in, nothing flows out. Fish die. Or consider our bodies. We take in (eat, eat, eat) and don’t give out, we become overweight and unhealthy. We have to give as much or more than we take in.

Generosity is a fruit of the Spirit, and a sign that God is at work. Generosity is a witness that the gospel has had a profound effect on us. Generosity is a sign of the fulfillment of the kingdom of God.

Giving is what God does: “For God so loved the world that he gave…” (John 3:16)

Giving is what Christians do: “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” (1 John 3:16)

17Hoarding misses the point: “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister* in need and yet refuses help? (1 john 3:17)

This is not the social gospel. This is the gospel. The only gospel.

When Jesus finishes with the corrupt tax collector, Zaccheus announces that he is going to repay everyone he has cheated four times, and give half of everything he has to the poor. The Hebrew Scriptures talk of the tithe. The New Testament does not. Zaccheus gives half. The widow gives 100%. After Zaccheus makes his “pledge” for the year, Jesus says an astounding thing: “Today salvation has come to this house… for the Son of Man came to seek out and save the lost.” (Luke 19)

Generosity is the signal that something has shifted in Zaccheus. Jesus sees it, “Ah hah!” Salvation is not pie in the sky when you die. There is an existential as well as eschatological dimension. Jesus teaches his disciples to pray: “Your kingdom come… on earth… as in heaven” Jesus doesn’t pray that we’ll go off to God’s kingdom. He prays that the kingdom will come to us.

When Christians learn to give, the world will sit up and take notice. When the world sees us talking about those that Jesus cared about – the hungry, the stranger, the imprisoned… — they will flock to us.  When they see us talking about something other than ourselves, we will have their attention. When our congregations learn to be outrageously generous, Jesus will say, “Ah-hah! Today salvation has come to this household!”

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

Time after Pentecost 2009

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 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.

November 22 – CHRIST THE KING?

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

Wednesday or Thursday November 25/26 THANKSGIVING

ADVENT – Year C

Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,
   and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God. 
– Baruch 5

November 29 – ADVENT 1C
Jeremiah 33:14-16 – I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

December 6 –  ADVENT 2C
Baruch 5:1-9Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,
   and put on for ever the beauty of the glory from God.

December 13 – Advent 3C

Thoughts: First Song of Isaiah by Jack Noble White.

December 20 – Advent 4C
Micah 5:2-5aBut you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.
Luke 1:47-55Magnificat: And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior…”

or Psalm 80:1-7 – Hear O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock: “Restore us!”
 Hebrews 10:5-10when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; 6in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.

Luke 1:39-45, (46-55) – Mary and Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb.

CHRISTMAS – Year C

And the Word became flesh…

December 24/25 – NATIVITY OF OUR LORD (three choices)

Isaiah 9:2-7 / Isaiah 62:6-12 / Isaiah 52:7-10
Psalm 96 / Psalm 97 / Psalm 98
Titus 2:11-14 / Titus 3:4-7 / Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12)
Luke 2:1-14, (15-20) / Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20 / John 1:1-14

December 27 – Christmas  1C

1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26
Psalm 148
Colossians 3:12-17
Luke 2:41-52

December 27 – St. John Apostle – This rarely falls on a Sunday. A great day to lift up John’s high Christology, and vision of God’s love.

Genesis 1:1-5, 26-31
Psalm 116
1 John 1:1 – 2:2
John 21:20-25 – The last verses of John. Peter’s jealousy of the disciple Jesus loved. This text appears nowhere else in the three-year lectionary but here.

January 3 – Christmas  2C

Jeremiah 31:7-14 / Sirach 24:1-12
Psalm 147:12-20 / Wisdom of Solomon 10:15-21
Ephesians 1:3-14
John 1:(1-9), 10-18

Wednesday, January 6 – Epiphany

Isaiah 60:1-6

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
Ephesians 3:1-12
Matthew 2:1-12

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