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.


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

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:


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:

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 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               


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.



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.