Dear Gulf Coast Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This week we’re moving from sending this to the leaders, to sending to everyone on all of our lists. This is a weekly devotional from the bishop. Below are the lessons for next Sunday, a link to the prayer list, some useful information, and then a devotional on one of the upcoming lessons. After the email is a list of the texts for the rest of the year. If you would rather not receive it, let us know.

March 21, 2010 –Lent 5C
Isaiah 43:16-21 – Rivers in the desert: I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Psalm 126 – When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,    we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy. 4Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb. May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
Psalm 119:9-16 – How can young people keep their way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
Philippians 3:4b-14 – I more than any have reason to be confident in the flesh (my own works-righteousness) but I regard them all as rubbish in order to gain Christ, and know him as Lord, a righteousness based on faith, not works. And so I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
John 12:1-8 – Mary anoints Jesus feet with costly nard and wipes them with her hair. Judas objects. And the much maligned: You always have the poor with you, but not me.

Prayer Requests – Pastor Harvey Bongers in ICU. The family of Salem, Houston organist Stephen Tate who died this week.

Service of the Word for April 18, 2010
We’ll all be at synod assembly for Easter 3C. So attached is a proposal for a lay-led Service of the Word, with a message from the bishop.

This Wednesday is St. Patrick’s Day
Take a break from your Lenten fast in the spirit of the extravagant and prodigal generosity of Mary to celebrate St. Pat. St. Patrick (c. 372 – 466) was kidnapped at the age of 16, carried off by Irish marauders and sold as a slave. While in Ireland he learned the Celtic tongue, which would serve him so well later as a bishop assigned to Ireland. His master was the Druid high priest, so he became familiar with their religious system. It’s amazing how our hardest, worst experiences prepare us and empower us for what is to come. He escaped and travelled 200 miles on foot to get home. Later he would return and be credited with converting Ireland to Christianity. There’s something to be said for Celtic Christianity.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension
The virtue of His coming on the Judgment Day.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward, In prayers of Patriarchs, In predictions of Prophets, In preaching of Apostles, In faith of Confessors, In purity of holy Virgins, In deeds of righteous men.

I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.

I bind to myself today
God’s Power to guide me,
God’s Might to uphold me,
God’s Wisdom to teach me,
God’s Eye to watch over me,
God’s Ear to hear me,
God’s Word to give me speech,
God’s Hand to guide me,
God’s Way to lie before me,
God’s Shield to shelter me,
God’s Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me, Whether far or near, Whether few or with many…

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the ship,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

·         4/16-18: SYNOD ASSEMBLY 2010. New Orleans!
·         6/27-7/21: DISCIPLE PROJECT at TLU! This year there will be two tracks for adults:  Preaching as God-Speech and Children’s and Family Ministry. Pastors and lay rostered leaders: Come with youth and young adults of their congregation. Private rooms. Preaching track by Paul Wilson, author of The Four Pages of the Sermon. $325 inclusive if by Monday, April 19. Questions to

Extravagant Love

John 12. It is six days before Passover. We’re getting close to Jesus’ hour (13:1), the hour when, having given so much, he will set the ultimate example by giving it all. For God so loved the world that he gave…  Sacrificial love is at the heart of the gospel. There is no other gospel.

Mary pours ¾ pound of perfumed nard, a year’s wages worth, on Jesus’ feet. She then wipes his feet with her hair, an act of deep love, a foreshadowing of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet in the very next chapter.

Judas is upset that this nard wasn’t liquidated and the money used for SOCIAL JUSTICE. Jesus tells him to lay off. He says the ominous words: “She has saved this for my burial.” His hour having arrived, she marks it with an act of lavish generosity that Judas cannot fathom.

Then Jesus adds the much misunderstood and misused words, “The poor you will always have with you, but me: not so much.” How quickly we jump to the assumption: The poor will always be with you, so don’t bother to worry about it, or do anything about it.

What a great passage for a popular pundit who this week encouraged people to run from churches that preach social justice. Even Bread for the World got in the fray, and they’re not easily riled. One wonders what Bible he is reading. His Book of Mormon wouldn’t back him up here.

 Jesus is alluding to a passage that his disciples would have known well:

Deuteronomy 15:11 — “There will never cease to be some poor people in the land; therefore, I am commanding you to make sure you open your hand to your fellow Israelites who are needy and poor in your land.”

Make sure you open your hand. It is precisely because there will always be poverty that we are to open our hands in generosity. So it’s not giving that Jesus questions, but Judas’ legalism vis-à-vis Mary’s extravagant generosity. Her lavish gift and heart of love is what Jesus praises.  

So forget social justice if you like. Let’s settle for extravagant generosity.

But extravagant generosity to whom? Jesus answers this. Unambiguously, I think:

When you host a dinner or a banquet, don’t invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors so you can be invited by them in return and get repaid. But when you host an elaborate meal, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.  — Luke 14:12-14

Uh oh. Back to social justice again. Or, let’s not call it that. Let’s just call it extravagant generosity, to the poor, like Jesus does. A rose by any other name…

Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if these troublesome passages weren’t in the Bible? Wouldn’t we love a me-gospel that allows us to indulge our greed?  Wouldn’t we love a gospel that doesn’t call us to give, to serve, to sacrifice — a gospel with no cross?! An Easter with no Good Friday. Wouldn’t that be nice?

But we follow a Jesus that calls us to come and die, to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. This message probably isn’t as popular as the pop gospel.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God. — Micah 6:8

But whoever has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and fails to show compassion, how can the love of God reside in such a person? — 1 John 3:17

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               

Lent – Year C

Return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.   – Joel 2

Lent at-a-glance
February 17 – Ash Wednesday: Dust. Ashes. Mortality. Repentance. Fasting. Don’t show off your piety.
February 21 – Lent 1C: First fruits for the Levite and alien. Jesus is tempted by Satan in the wilderness.
February 28 – Lent 2C: Abram’s call. Faith reckoned as righteousness. Jesus laments for Jerusalem.
March 7 – Lent 3C: Repent, for there is only so much time left for the fig tree to bear fruit.
March 14 – Lent 4C: Lost sheep. Lost sons.
March 21 – Lent 5C: I am about to do a new thing… Mary anoints Jesus’ feet.
March 28 – Palm/Passion Sunday: Jesus entry into Jerusalem as an anti-triumph.

March 28, 2010 – Passion/Palm Sunday
Sovereign God, you have established your rule in the human heart through the servanthood of Jesus Christ. By your Spirit, keep us in the joyful procession of those who with their tongues confess Jesus as Lord and with their lives praise him as Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Luke 19:28-40 – Processional Gospel with Palms. The Triumpal Entry into Jerusalem. An anti-triumph, in contrast to the Roman triumphal marches after a conquering victory.
Isaiah 50:4-9a – Game face:  I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting… therefore I have set my face like flint…
Psalm 31:9-16 – In you, O Lord, I take refuge. Let me never be put to shame. I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.
Philippians 2:5-11 – Christ hymn: Have this mind, that was in Christ, who didn’t count on his equality with God, but emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant, and becoming obedient, even to death on a cross.
Luke 22:14 – 23:56 or Luke 23:1-49 – Passover dinner and arrest. Shortened version begins with Jesus before Pilate: “Are you the king of the Jews?” Longer version includes the burial by Joseph of Arimathea
The Three Days

April 1, 2010 – MAUNDY THURSDAY
Holy God, source of all love, on the night of his betrayal, Jesus gave us a new commandment, to love one another as he loves us. Write this commandment in our hearts, and give us the will to serve others as he was the servant of all, your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14 – Passover. Yahweh to Moses and Aaron: This month shall be the beginning of months for you. This day shall be a day of remembrance for you.
Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 – What shall I give the Lord for his benefit to me? I will lift the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 – Paul’s Eucharistic theology: I passed on to you what I received: The words of institution.
John 13:1-17, 31b-35 – Jesus washes the disciples’ feet. A new commandment I give you: Love one another.

April 2, 2010 – GOOD FRIDAY
Merciful God, your Son was lifted up on the cross to draw all people to himself. Grant that we who have been born out of his wounded side may at all times find mercy in him, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 – Suffering servant: Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 5But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.
Psalm 22 – My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
Hebrews 10:16-25 – Christ offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins. By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. This is the covenant: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds. I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.
or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
John 18:1 – 19:42 – Jesus’ arrest, trail and crucifixion, all the way to his burial by Joseph of Aramathea and Nicodemus.

April 1, 2010 – EASTER VIGIL
Eternal giver of life and light, this holy night shines with the radiance of the risen Christ. Renew your church with the Spirit given us in baptism, that we may worship you in sincerity and truth and may shine as a light in the world, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Hebrew Bible Readings:
1.       Genesis 1:1 – 2:4a – Creation. Response: Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26
2.       Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:6-18; 9:8-13 – Flood. Response: Psalm 46
5.       Isaiah 55:1-11 – Ho! Salvation offered freely to all. Response: Isaiah 12:2-6
6.       Proverbs 8:1-8; 19-21; 9:4b-6 or Baruch 3:9-15, 32 – 4:4 – The wisdom of God. Response: Psalm 19
7.       Ezekiel 36:24-28 – A new heart and a new spirit. Response: Psalm 42 and 43
8.       Ezekiel 37:1-14 – The valley of the dry bones. Response: Psalm 143
9.       Zephaniah 3:14-20 – The gathering of God’s people. Response: Psalm 98
10.   Jonah 1:1-2:1 – The deliverance of Jonah. Response: Jonah 2:2-3 [4-6] 7-9
11.   Isaiah 61:1-4, 9-11 – Clothed in the garments of salvation. Response: Deuteronomy 32:1-4, 7, 36a, 43a
12.   Daniel 3:1-29 – Deliverance from the fiery furnace. Response: Song of the Three, vv. 35-65 (apocryphal)
Romans 6:3-11 – We have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
John 20:1-18 – Jesus’ resurrection and appearance to Mary Magdalene

Easter C

God of mercy, we no longer look for Jesus among the dead, for he is alive and has become the Lord of life. Increase in our minds and hearts the risen life we share with Christ, and help us to grow as your people toward the fullness of eternal life with you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Acts 10:34-43 – Peter’s sermon: We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear…
or Isaiah 65:17-25 – I am about to create a new heaven and a new earth.
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 – God’s steadfast love endures forever.
I Corinthians 15:19-26 – Paul’s discourse on the resurrection. Death as the final enemy.
or Acts 10:34-43 – Peter’s sermon: We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear…
John 20:1-18 – Jesus’ resurrection and appearance to Mary Magdalene
or Luke 24:1-12 – Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women with them find the stone rolled away, encounter an angel, and run to tell the apostles.

April 11, 2010 – Easter 2C
Acts 5:27-32 – Peter to the high priest: The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, so that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.’
or Psalm 150
Revelation 1:4-8 – The opening of John’s apocalypse: Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
John 20:19-31Doubting Thomas. Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.
Hymn: It would seem, given the second lesson, that we must sing Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending.

April 18, 2010 – Easter 3C
Acts 9:1-6, (7-20) – Saul’s light from heaven. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
John 21:1-19 – Breakfast with Jesus. Jesus forgives Peter.   ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’
Note: This weekend is Synod Assembly in New Orleans. See attached proposal for a lay-led Service of the Word.
Prayers: Synod Assembly


April 25, 2010 – St. Mark, Evangelist

May 2, 2010 – Easter 5C
Acts 11:1-18 – Peter’s report to the church at Jerusalem on why he ate with the uncircumcised. His vision.
Psalm 148
Revelation 21:1-6 – New heaven. New Earth. New Jerusalem. Wipe tears from every eye. Death will be no more.
John 13:31-35 – Little children, I am with you only a little longer. I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

May 9, 2010 – Easter 6C
Acts 16:9-15 – Paul has a vision during the night: A man from Macedonia pleading with him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’
Psalm 67
Revelation 21:10, 22 – 22:5 – And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God… No temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb… Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
John 14:23-29 The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
Prayers: This is Mother’s Day! May 8 the new Episcopal bishop of New Orleans is consecrated.

Thursday, May 13, 2010 – ASCENSION OF OUR LORD (May also be celebrated on Sunday, May 16)
Acts 1:1-11– As they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’
or Psalm 93
Ephesians 1:15-23  – God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Luke 24:44-53 –Whilehe was blessing them [at Bethany], he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

May 16, 2010 – Easter 7C (Or, some congregations celebrate Ascension on this day.)

Pentecost and the Time after Pentecost

May 23, 2010 – DAY OF PENTECOST
Acts 2:1-21
 or Acts 2:1-21
 John 14:8-17, (25-27) –In my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. 15 ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever.

Romans 5:1-5 – Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
John 16:12-15When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth… He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine.

June 6 – Pentecost 2C
1 Kings 17:8-16, (17-24)God provides so that the widow of Zarephath can feed Elijah.
or 1 Kings 17:17-24Elijah revives the widow of Zarephath’s son.
Galatians 1:11-24Paul’s gospel is not of human origin. Paul was set apart before he was born, then called by God’s grace, to proclaim Christ among the Gentiles.
Luke 7:11-17Jesus raises the widow’s son at Nain
Prayers: Lutherhill dedicates its new buildings on Saturday, June 5. Pray for Lutherhill’s ministries for people of all ages.

June 13, 2010 – Pentecost 3C
Luke 7:36 – 8:3 – Sinful woman with alabaster jar forgiven. Women follow Jesus: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

June 20, 2010 – Pentecost 4C
1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a
Luke 8:26-39  – Jesus heals the Geresene demoniac.
Note: This is also Father’s Day
June 27, 2010 – Pentecost 5C
2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14 or 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20 or Psalm 16
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Luke 9:51-62 – Jesus rejected by Samaritan village. Cost of discipleship. “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

July 4, 2010 – Pentecost 6C
or Psalm 66:1-9
Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 – The sending of the 70: See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near…
Prayers: For our country on its birthday, and that all people might live in freedom and security.
July 11, 2010 – Pentecost 7C
Amos 7:7-17
or Deuteronomy 30:9-14 – God will make you prosper if you obey. The word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.
or Psalm 25:1-10
Colossians 1:1-14 – Paul and Timothy write to the church at Colossae, commending them for their faith, and their love, made known to them by Epaphras. They pray that the church there may bear fruit in every good work and be prepared to endure what may come with patience.
Luke 10:25-37 – The parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus: “Go and do likewise.”
Prayers: Synod Council is in retreat this weekend. For the ministries of this synod: call process, candidacy, youth and family ministry, new congregations, our companion synods and more.

July 18, 2010 – Pentecost 8C
Amos 8:1-12 – Plumb line in Israel
Colossians 1:15-28– The Christ Hymn. Most scholars believe that Paul is quoting a hymn here. If so, it would be one of the earliest hymns about Christ ever written. Amazing how the divinity of Christ emerges so early in Christian theology. The creed derives much from this passage. Through him all things were created. And one of the earliest statements of the church was that God was in Christ, reconciling himself to the world. To all things (ta panta).
Luke 10:38-42 – Mary and Martha

July 25, 2010 – Pentecost 9C
Hosea 1:2-10 or Genesis 18:20-32
Psalm 85 or Psalm 138
Colossians 2:6-15 (16-19)
Luke 11:1-13 – The Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ teaching on prayer. Be persistent.
Prayers: Youth trip to our companion synod in Peru this weekend. For safety, deepening faith, commitment.

August 1, 2010 – Pentecost 10C
or Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23 2Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? 23For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity.
or aaaa