Sunday, November 2, 2014
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Monday, September 15, 2014
Saturday, September 6, 2014
My wife, Ruth, and I were out for a bike ride this afternoon when we came around the corner at Mill Pond in Austin, Minnesota where we live and here was this colorful graffiti. It was done this summer by some kids in our church. I had heard about it, but only now saw it for the first time. OSLC, by the way, is for Our Savior's Lutheran Church and the kids who painted this obviously have a love for God and for music. Pretty cool.
What isn't obvious is that this mural was painted over something else. If I remember correctly there was some gang graffiti here prior to this and so not only did the group eliminate that, they proclaimed the Gospel as well. Way to go!
Our world is filled with violence. Perhaps it is part of our call as followers of Jesus to bring an alternative world view - that there is a promise that is greater than the violence. It is the promise of God's love, which is alive in God's people. Sing on!
Monday, August 18, 2014
As I stood looking at those acres of grave markers I thought of this passage from St. John's Revelation:
"Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?' I said to him, 'Sir, you are the one that knows.' Then he said to me, 'These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (7:13-14)
As I thought about St. John's revelation I thought that perhaps the scene he saw was somewhat like the one in front of me - row after row of those dressed in white. Will death have the last word? Will the blood of the Lamb cover us all? Who are these robed in white?
Friday, August 8, 2014
Visiting an elderly person in a nursing home is a stark reminder of the law of mortality. It is a reminder that each day we are all one day closer to the grave. As Reinhold Niebuhr reminded us, we have a sense of immortality, but we are not immortal. We have a sense of what it means to keep living vibrantly all our days, and yet we are not guaranteed that we will be given that gift. Perhaps our last days will not be pleasant, will not be something we would wish for. And we have little to say about that. It is the law of mortality.
And yet the Gospel word comes to us from God our Creator who, like these loving children behind the artwork, says, "I love you. I am with you. I bless you." How good that word is.
Monday, July 28, 2014
This summer I have had more than one conversation with persons who wonder why I worship when I "don't have to be there." They wonder if I do it because I'm afraid of God being angry with me if I don't, or if I do it because I receive some grand gifts that they didn't know about when I worship. In other words, they wonder if it is "the carrot or the stick" that get me to worship every Sunday, even on sabbatical. I'd say now that it's neither. I worship because of who Christ is. All things hold together in Christ. All things were created through and for Christ. Without Christ I have no life. That's why I worship. What would you say?
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
If you aren't a baseball fan you may not have seen the above picture that was taken during the Home Run Derby last night at Target Field, Minneapolis, during the All-Star Game festivities. The picture looks unreal, like it's from some fantasy baseball movie, but no, this rainbow actually came forth during Brian Dozier's at-bats during the derby. It made it's way onto the front page of the Minneapolis Star Tribune's sports section.
Interestingly there was quite a bit of media chatter about this rainbow in the sky. Why is that? I suppose one explanation is that human beings are naturally superstititous - esp. baseball players, some say. I have another hunch. I think there is a natural longing in all of us to hear a word from on high - especially a word of promise. We long to know that the Creator of us all is blessing us and granting us favor. It goes back to that promise to Noah when, following the Great Flood, God says: "I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth." (Gen. 9:13) Is the rainbow a word of gospel from on high? I think it is something we long to believe.
Monday, July 7, 2014
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
This is Paul. He's a shoe shine guy in one of the airports that I traveled through in recent days. He gave me permission to take his picture. He says lots of people ask for his picture. He reports that he is 85 and has been shining shoes at various places around the country since he was 15 years old! I asked him how he likes being a shoe shine guy, and he says he loves it and he makes a pretty good living. I was surprised by that. I guess I expected him to say something like, "It is what it is," in a sort-of dreary voice.
My question is: What gives a guy like Paul the ability to be positive about life? My answer is: There must be some gospel voices singing in his soul. Somewhere, somehow, somebody has been singing gospel songs to him that remind him he is a child of God, he is treasured, he is made in God's image, he has been forgiven of his sins. I think that without that message singing in our heads it's awfully tough to be positive about life. And maybe that's why I think gospel words are so important in preaching. What do you think?
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
We were at a country cemetery this past weekend where we saw the grave of my 95 year-old mother-in-law's grandfather! He died in 1879. (My mother-in-law, by the way, is hale and hearty)
It got me thinking: Since one way of thinking about Law/Gospel is that the Law always lifts up our vulnerability, and the Gospel always speaks about God's response to our vulnerability, is it possible that death could be (at some point in life) a gospel word? I'm thinking about people who have lived a long, long time and are ready for the Lord to take them. Is death good news for them? Something to ponder...
Saturday, June 7, 2014
I call this blog "Law & Gospel Everywhere." Why? Because there are examples EVERYWHERE where we receive messages that say (even without meaning to!) "You need Christ!" (that's the Law speaking) and other messages which say, "Here is Christ!" (that's the Gospel speaking). Example #1 is above. Check out the sign. Do you hear Law or Gospel when you read that message? I'd be curious. See ya later