This whole “process”

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I am greatly frustrated.  That is perhaps why I have not posted in a while.  I am frustrated because of this LCMS process of becoming a Minister in this church.

I am at odds with my brothers because I want a call to a church that 10 of us are in line for.

Should I pray for them to have that call?  Or me?  Or for God’s Will to be done?  Yes, for God’s Will.

Still, the whole matter about being placed into a congregation is giving me short nights of rest and long, angering, frustrating days of anxiety.  I am short in patience, short on energy, and short of desire for much of anything but conversation and beer.

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A real moment for missionaries; a real moment for the church

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I was a missionary in Taiwan for a little while.  I was there and taught English and at the same time was to be a missionary.  This was during the terribly gluttonous years of LCMS World Mission.  Now there is another place that actually needs missionaries of the Gospel, and I wonder what we are doing?

Prayer is powerful, but prayer isn’t enough.  If prayer were enough I think the gospels would read much differently.  I wonder if we have the guts to send one missionary to Japan?  One man to preach the gospel purely would not show a ton of guts but at least some.

I think this is again a challenge to us.  I think it is a challenge for us because we (Lutherans in America) have always had a rich history of sending missionaries–within our own country and without–to places where they were needed at moment when they were needed.  I should say places like Japan and moments like right now.  So we have to answer a question like, “what has happened to us?”  Why just initiative to prayer?  I am also not talking about money.  Do not get the idea that I want a national offering.  Unless that national offering is to go to missionaries and churches in Japan.

That is what I was struck with last night as I was asleep.  We do not seem to have any teeth anymore.  We are gumming the church to death with a gospel that has no teeth in America and the church is worse off for it–and so is the World.

Sunday Morn Before the Last Spring Quarter Monday

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I am not yet sure how to feel about this being the last beginning to a quarter?  I am excited to type this.  But, at the same time incredibly nervous and apprehensive.  I am almost finished. I think that is a good place to be.  Not finished, even though that is nice, but excited and apprehensive.

I can trace where I have come from in my theology from whence I first arrived.  That is an amazing thing to do.  Where I was was no place to be–no good place that is.  I came in nervous I would look like an idiot.  I am leaving knowing I am an idiot.  I came in thinking I was ready to be a pastor.  I am leaving knowing I have no claim to be.  I came in thinking I knew who God.  I am leaving with an elementary education–if that!

Seminary has been good.  But, it has been good because I stumbled into it and then treasured what I found.  Like a poor sap walking through a field and stumbling over treasure I stumbled onto a great seminary education.  It does not just happen.  For sure that is not the case–not anymore and maybe not ever.  But, if you take the time to wander about a  bit you might stumble onto a theologian.  You might find out that being a pastor is no profession and the church is no place for managing and therapy.

 

Just a nice night

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There are many things that are better than having a good conversation.  But last night was just a nice night because of the conversation.   It was rainy.  But there was good beer and good conversation.  My wife was mad at me for being gone for four hours without calling–and rightly so–but it was a good conversation.

 

The Faithfulness of Scripture as a Witness.

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I woke up thinking, “why did that preacher tell a story?”  I was wondering that because I am still writing a paper on the condition of preaching in the Synod.  Why tell a story at the outset?

Whether consciously or not, the preacher communicates that there is something wrong with the way it was said in the scriptures.  The Scriptures are not faithful witnesses.  They do not communicate what these people need to hear.  I, the preacher, must wrangle them into terms that my people can understand.

This is also the case when a preacher  takes the Scriptures too seriously.

I have learned that our exegetical education at the seminary is pretty terrible.   It is, for the most part, an education on how YOU can get the right reading of the scriptures.  “I translated it THIS way…”  I have heard that so many times in a Hebrew exegetical class.  This, I am afraid, can lead a preacher to have absolutely no playfulness with the Scriptures.  They are faithful witnesses.  Rest upon them and relax a bit.

I read through a majority of St. Augustine’s sermons.  He would regularly add quotes from Jesus or an Apostle that are just nowhere recorded other than that sermon.  Augustine was playfully adding what he thought the Lord might say.  Going beyond what the text said!  Yikes.  This is the case for many preachers before the enlightenment and the searches for the historical Jesus and what the Bible really says.

The Scriptures are faithful witnesses, rest upon that.

Thoughts on Preaching from Forde

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“Always, it seems, the text has been translated into our terms, twisted to fit what we call our ‘needs.’  In the old days, before the Reformation put a stop to it, they were at least more open and above-board about it.  They had a method for doing it and that afforded at least some restraint on the nonsense that could be perpetrated even if it was not always terrible successful.  They called it ‘spiritual interpretation.’  Usually it is referred to as the allegorical method.  Even though the Reformation tried to shut down this entire enterprise and suggest other ways of interpreting and preaching the test, it seems simple to have gone underground only to emerge unrecognized (because it is now without a name) particularly in our preaching.  The historical method has pretty much banished allegory from interpretation and exegesis, but because that method suggests no effective substitute when we come to preaching, the old monkey-business surfaces again in all sorts of nefarious ways.” –The Preached God, 92.

 

What is happening in the pulpit?

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Preaching is my thing.  That does not mean I am great at it.  That does not mean I am good.  But I like preaching.  I think, at this point in the churches history, it is the most important thing that happens in the service.

My wife objects.  She says it is the Eucharist.  I agree.  But for the Now time, preaching is the most important.  This is true because church has become suffocatingly doctrinal.  What I mean by that is; church has become a series of words and actions repeated over time to be ingrained as habit.  Granted, not all of that is bad.  I think Luther would agree that there are many things that just need to be repeated and habituated into us.  However, I think he might object to people answering the question of, “Why go to church?  Why take the Eucharist?” with, “I dunno, this is just what we do,” a regularly as I have heard it.  This is why I think preaching is the most important moment in the liturgy nowadays, of course that is debatable.

To use the subtitle from Stanley Hauerwas’ book A Cross-Shattered Church, I am interested in “Reclaiming the Theological Heart of Preaching.” because I fear it is lost.

We are in a point when even mentioning the name of God or Jesus in a homily is rare.  Of course it might not be for the people reading this blog, but it is certainly rare.  But for those of us who are fond of recounting the work of God in His only Son to redeem the world, our preaching might not be theological either.

Are we preaching too much doctrine and not enough God?  For theology is not a matter of doctrine as much as it is a matter of the preacher being Authorized by God to preach God.