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

·         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.

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

Dr. Ed Krentz – THIS WEEK!

Dr. Krentz will be with us this week in Brenham, Houston and New Orleans.

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

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.


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               


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


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.


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