Monthly Archives: June 2012

SENDING POEM by Julane Nease, WTS 3rd year DL Student

You were meant for this;

This moment,

This day,

This Life.

 

From the beginning;

Each turn,

Each road

Lead you here.

 

God has prepared you;

Nurturing,

Nourishing,

Planting,

 

Making you fertile soil;

Blossoming,

Blooming,

Growing.

.

Now, God is calling,

In the calm,

In the clamor,

In all places.

 

You were meant for this.

Go in love

Go Serve.

Go!

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: ASH WEDNESDAY by Roberta Pierce, WTS, 2012

ASH WEDNESDAY
by Harold Eppley
Waverly, Tennessee: Oconee Spirit Press, 2012, 260 pages

Harold Eppley, a 1988 graduate of Wartburg Seminary has published seven non-fiction books, but this is his first novel. “Ash Wednesday” is the story of two pastors whose lives intersect in some very interesting ways. Both are struggling, but for very different reasons. Pastor Gerald Schwartz struggles with losing his wife to another woman, while trying to pacify a small church full of bickering people and still maintain his sense of liturgical correctness. Pastor Allan Weiss seems to have it all: a mega-church that affords him a luxurious lifestyle, a wife, children, and parishioners who adore him. Unfortunately, Pastor Weiss takes the adornment by some of his parishioners a bit too far, especially those who are young and attractive. In other words, he has no boundaries and, as long as his wife doesn’t find out, he is willing to have as many affairs as he can fit in to his busy schedule.

Although Schwartz and Weiss do not agree on many things, they are colleagues and when you live in a rural area, colleagues are not in great supply. They meet on a regular basis because the bishop mandated that each pastor in the district partner for a weekly meeting with a pastor whose approach to theology and ministry was different than theirs. This was a perfect match for those reasons.

At first, I was not sure I liked the portrayal of a pastor who jumped into bed with any attractive female who was willing or could be persuaded to have a sexual relationship with him. It was not the image of a pastor I want people to read about. That being said, I found Eppley’s writing sharp and page-turning. It was hard to put down. The book is full of satire and pathos. There are many sexual references in the book. It is definitely a book for adults only. What I found I enjoyed most about the book was Eppley’s way of intertwining the many colorful characters. He artfully captures the essence of each person and makes them come alive. I liked the ending. It was not what I expected, but it brought the book to a fitting conclusion for me.

TO MY DAD by Anna Johnson, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem

Anna Johnson, 23, finished a B.A. last year and now lives and works on the Mount of Olives in the office of the Lutheran World Federation in Jerusalem.  She is the daughter of Andrew Johnson, Executive Assistant to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, and Kathy Gerking, an ELCA Pastor and Wartburg Seminary graduate.  In her Father’s Day note to Andy, she reflects on some aspects of being a Pastor’s Kid when it’s your mom who is the pastor.  She tells her dad:

…how awesome I think YOU are for supporting her. Since entering the “real” world, I have realized that there are still a lot of discrepancies and prejudices in how our world treats men and women. Even amongst couples I have a great deal of respect for, I have noticed that not only do traditional “gender” roles hold fast, but power disparity often does as well. Funny thing is that I really thought this stuff was probably a thing of the past growing up, and I have you and Mom to thank for that.

I am not sure I ever told you about a moment in one of my classes last year when someone was talking about how there are men out there who take care of things in the household and take care of the kids, etc – and we were all talking about this as some sort of novel concept – until a lightbulb went off in my head and I realized that “hey! my dad did those things when I was growing up, too! that’s not weird!… is it??” Kind of like hearing Uncle Paul talk about seeing a one-armed man and feeling sorry for him before it hit him “hey! my dad only has one arm!” Except that the “weird” thing about my dad is that he is a feminist rather than that he is missing any limbs.

In other words, I have loved learning more about the parts of your relationship (from engagement, to wedding, and beyond!) that other people might find “quirky” or too progressive, but that I grew up thinking were normal. I am proud to have a dad who was a strong enough man to marry a woman who did not change her name and who has always supported her career opportunities. Patriarchy is alive and well in our society and in our churches (and at times, in our family), and while this angers me on countless levels, I think in some way I feel less personally wounded by it than many others because at least I grew up in a household that shows hope for how more relationships might be in the future – and society can only change when we change how we ourselves act in relationship with one another….

I love you!
Anna

________________________________________

CHRISTIAN UNITY by Jennifer Dahle, M.Div. Jr.

Segment of a sermon Jennifer  wrote for a prayer service centered on Christian unity. Her sermon was chosen to be given in Oklahoma City this past spring.

Text: I Cor. 15:51-58.

“Listen! I will tell you a mystery.”  A mystery that will happen in the twinkling of an eye, a mystery filled with trumpet blasts and the raising of the dead to immortality, a mystery filled with the transformation of the living, when corrupted flesh is made incorruptible and the power of death, sin, is broken forever. In that moment God will fully reveal Godself, and we will eternally live out our new identity in Christ. This mystery contains an ending that is so wonderful it is beyond our wildest imaginings! BUT, while we are caught up in our contemplation of this future moment we must not forget that our mystery, just like all mysteries, begins with a death, the death of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ death is the key to our future transformation and our starting point when speaking of Christian unity.

I recently had an opportunity to visit Taize, France, a community that invites young people, year round, from all around the globe, to partake in worship, reflection, and work. Take, for instance, the story of Sebastian, a 17 year old boy from Chile who is studying abroad in Prague, and decided to visit Taize. One evening I found myself discussing with Sebastian the similarities and differences between the Lutheran and Evangelical churches. For Sebastian, this was a sensitive subject because in Chile there is a great divide between the two and tensions are high. He constantly finds himself put down by his family and friends because he enjoys worshipping at both churches while they do not. When I asked him if Prague was any better, he said it was worse. Beautiful churches sit virtually empty on almost every corner because most of the population is atheist. According to Sebastian, the people of Prague become very angry when you try to speak with them about God. In fact, the other young people he goes to school with in Prague spent the better part of a month calling him dirty names because of his Christian beliefs and his desire to talk about them.

It was at Taize that Sebastian experienced peace, love, and reconciliation, and he felt renewed. No one at Taize cared what church he attended. No one refused to speak with him about faith and God, nor did they avoid his questions. He found himself surrounded by young people whose primary concern was living for a short time in community with other Christians, other seekers, and other young people searching for a place where they were accepted without question. All that was asked of him was to help keep the bathrooms clean. Sebastian was content to join in the prayer of the brothers and found joy living in communion, united with his brothers and sisters in Christ.

  After visiting Taize, I found myself asking the question, why is ecumenism so easy at Taize, and so hard for the rest of us? Especially when you consider that all Christian denominations recognize the importance of Christ’s actions: his life, death, and resurrection. We agree that it is through Christ that we will undergo this mystery of transformation that Paul speaks of. We trust in Christ. I wonder, however, if we have a tendency to put our trust in our own traditions and denominations over and above the Word of Jesus Christ. In today’s text, Paul claims that “the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” Our persistence in creating distinctions amongst ourselves can take our attention from God and hinder the unity that God wants us to embrace.

 A man I spoke with at the World Council of Churches in Geneva said that it is our job as churches, in terms of creating unity, to “plant the seeds of the trees under whose shade we may never sit.”  We work together now for justice and peace, all the while knowing that “nothing we do here on earth affects what God has already done for us.”

God gives us victory through Christ. We don’t earn it and we definitely don’t deserve it, but we are free. Free to serve the Lord who is in the poor, the sick, the elderly, and the oppressed. We are free to live in community with each other. This is the good news. God loves us in spite of ourselves, and continues to work in us and through us. The incarnate Jesus Christ disrupts and ultimately breaks the power of sin and death on our behalf. This truth is what we keep at the center of our prayer for unity as we follow our call to move forward, to be in communion with each other, and to seek Jesus in the broken places of this world, as he seeks us.

 

Australian Women Continue to Press for Ordination

The Women’s Ministry Network, a partnership of women and men has been working for the ordination of women in the Lutheran Church in Australia for many years. The Persistent Voice has followed their struggle and been a partner with them in this challenge. Here is recent word from them: 

“St Stephen’s Lutheran Church [Australia] is organising a conference aimed at moving the issue of Women’s Ordination forward within the LCA, which will be held in Adelaide 13-14th July, 2012. It has been described as the ‘ultimate women’s ordination conference’ – not that it will be the greatest, but we aim for it to be the last.  By our assessment, membership of the LCA will no longer tolerate the tactics of endless talkfests, national Bible-studies, think-tanks, discussions and committees.  It is time for change!

“Please prayerfully consider participating in this conference, and planning what we need to do around Australia to ensure that women’s ordination quickly becomes a reality in the LCA.   Please be a part of bringing new life to the LCA in the form of bringing women’s gifts into pastoral leadership. 

This information has been sent to all LCA pastors and congregational chairpersons.  We encourage you ask that notices about the conference be put in your bulletins and newsletters over the coming weeks.  Any way that you can help to promote this event to those who need to hear would be most helpful.”

 Conference website  www.sslc.org.au/woc2012

 Peace and blessings”

Although most readers The Persistent Voice will be unable go to Australia to attend, prayers and support would be most encouraged.