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Archive for October, 2014

How Do I Preach On This?!

I had a chapel planning meeting today for the week that I will be preaching at the seminary. It was great to gather together with my fellow classmates and take seriously the honor of leading and forming worship for the community. Wanting to get a head start on the sermonizing process, I took a gander at the text for the sermon. Let me tell you, it’s a whopper of a text! In case you don’t have a bible at hand, here’s the text:

Zephaniah 1:7 Be silent before the Lord GOD! For the day of the LORD is at hand; the LORD has prepared a sacrifice, he has consecrated his guests. 12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the people who rest complacently on their dregs, those who say in their hearts, “The LORD will not do good, nor will he do harm.” 13 Their wealth shall be plundered, and their houses laid waste. Though they build houses, they shall not inhabit them; though they plant vineyards, they shall not drink wine from them. 14 The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter, the warrior cries aloud there. 15 That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, 16 a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements. 17 I will bring such distress upon people that they shall walk like the blind; because they have sinned against the LORD, their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. 18 Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD’s wrath; in the fire of his passion the whole earth shall be consumed; for a full, a terrible end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.

My first thought was of absolute terror. I had this image of me preaching doom and gloom to the people gathered together for worship. The next thought I had in response to this was “Nope, that ain’t gonna happen!” I’ll be working on this text on my own the next few weeks, but I’m curious. What message do you hear from this text? Are there good news nuggets that you sift out from the midst of the doom and gloom? Inquiring mind wants to know…

Why Do I Have So Many Books?!

Before you get any further, I want you to look at the title of this post. See the “?!” at the end of the title? Did you know that this is a legitimate punctuation mark, and that there’s a word for that specific punctuation? And no, it’s not question mark-exclamation point. It’s actually called an interrobang. Who knew there was such a thing?! Just a special tidbit of random information from me to you.

Okay, enough about grammar, I wan to talk about another subject: BOOKS! As anyone who has attended Wartburg Theological Seminary can probably tell you, October is THEOLOGICAL LIBRARIES MONTH!!! Yay! Being the month in which we celebrate Theological Libraries, our very own Reu Memorial Library at Wartburg Theological Seminary holds a book sale every fall in October. There are also other fun events and activities as well, but the books always draw a big crowd. Seeing as how it’s my last year on campus and I’ll likely be moving in 7-10 months, I told myself I wouldn’t buy any books this year. I already have enough. My parents, who were so kind as to help me move yet again, would likely agree with that statement.

I was doing fairly well with that commitment, until the second to last day of the book sale. I had already perused through the books and saw some that held interest, but I assured myself I didn’t need any more books and walked away. This time, I was helping someone else find books, and then ended up looking closer at some of the books. I bought $2 worth (two hard cover and four paperbacks) and told myself that was it. When I went back later on, I noticed some more books that a professor had mentioned in class. I picked those up, and decided I should make it an even $2 once again. Now my total in sales was $4, and my total books purchased came to 14 (two hard cover and six paperbacks). So I was done. Not buying any more books, and that’s FINAL!

Well to be fair, I didn’t BUY any more books this time, but I did get some free ones on the last day of the sale. Most of them were some great classics, Like Robinson Crusoe, The Pearl, etc. Then I found some other mysteries and books by authors I believe my mom reads, so I picked those up for her. Finally, I found more books by another author that yet another professor had recommended.

I got some really great selections, but my book collection has gotten so out of hand that I have a box of books still stored away, my desk has three rows of books on them and books piled up on top of those books, and the new books I bought are sill in a box next to the desk. It’s not to hoarder proportions yet, but I’ll have at least another box of books now to move come next summer. Many of them are theological books or books that relate to working in the church or spiritual care. Still more are books I intend to read. The problem with all these books is that I can’t see getting rid of 95% of them. Maybe some day I’ll have enough money to buy them all in kindle format, but until then, my desk will be overflowing with literature of varying sorts. I’m still not sure how I feel about this, but I suppose there are worse things to collect than books.

So tell me, dear readers. What’s something that you keep accumulating, but can’t part ways with? I’m curious to see what you have to say. Anyone else a self-proclaimed bibliophile? And finally… anyone want to help me move all these boxes next summer?   😉

They could be my pastor(s)!

With the pastors at my home congregation moving on, the church will be entering the call process to eventually call another pastor or pastors for the congregation. This generally takes several months, even years, before the paperwork is finalized, the synod notified, interim work is completed, and the potential interviews are begun. In my head, I couldn’t help but think that St. John Lutheran would be ready to call a new pastor around the time my fellow classmates graduate. Since Brian and Andrea were first call pastors, it’s quite possible the church would consider another first call pastor. So one of my classmates may very well end up getting a call to my home congregation.

Upon realizing this, I started looking at my fellow classmates with another focal lens in place. I would hear them talk, teach, provide spiritual, emotional, mental support to others and think “would they be able to lead the people of St. John?” Time after time, the answer turned out to be yes. I realized that not only were these my classmates, but they were pastors, finalizing their classes and anticipating calls.It has been a pleasant surprise to see this calling strengthened and honed over the past few years, to the point that I would be happy if any of them ended up in my home congregation.

Along the same lines as thinking about them in regards to St. John, I also started thinking “could they be my pastor?” Again, the answer was yes. I realized that not only could they be my pastor, but on some level they already have been. I’ve gone to my classmates with my fears, concerns, joys, dreams, etc. and had them provide affirming insights time after time. I hope they are able to say the same about me, and look forward to seeing where we all end up. Looking back to our first days together, the growth and maturation is astonishing. This isn’t to say that we were all immature slackers to begin with, but that this process has managed to shape us all in amazing and wonderful ways.

I leave you with these words from the ELW Morning Prayer:

Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.