Tag Archives: God

IMMIGRANT LABORERS, a POEM, by Rev. Minna Quint, WTS 2014, Capital Hill Lutheran, Des Moines, IA

For hands
Covered in callouses
Bruised from rough labor
Dried by a scorching sun
My God where are you?

 For faces
Tired from long hours
Worn by the weather
Hardened by oppression
My God where are you?

 For stomachs
Starving for satisfaction
Longing to be filled
Growling
Growling
Growling
My God where are you?

 For jeans
Torn apart by physical labor
Stained with pain and disapproval
Bleached in the sun of unrighteousness
My God where are you?

 For wallets
Soggy from a day’s sweat
Empty
Old
Frayed
My God where are you?

 For hearts
That struggle to be loved
Screaming at inequality
In a country that shouts
“The land of the FREE”
My God where are you?

INTERCESSORY PRAYERS FOR IMMIGRANT LABORERS by Rev. Minna Quint, WTS 2014, Capital Hill Lutheran, Des Moines, IA

For hands that work all day and night on property they will never own
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

For backs that are twisted and bent working in fields that just go on and on
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

For fingers that are red and swollen from picking a harvest they will never consume
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

For shoulders that carry burdens which reside in their muscles leaving knots that cannot be untied
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

For brows burning in the heat of an unforgiving sun begging for a single cloud
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

For knees that ache so heavily night after night they prevent any chance of sleep
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

For ears that refuse to listen and turn away another’s plea
For eyes that choose dominion over every creature they see
For minds that cannot understand what it means to have equality
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE FOR GOD (IN WORSHIP) By Troy Troftgruben, WTS Assistant Professor of New Testament

Using inclusive language for God is a matter of characterizing God—to use narrative theory language—and characterizing God as accurately as possible.

In my experience, using inclusive language for God is something that may well not necessarily earn you praise from many. But some do notice it, and it does send a message about who we believe God is.

Two people from my congregation stand out:

One was a young mother of twin daughters, a part of our church staff. One day she asked us pastor: “Can you please work harder at using inclusive language for God? …I don’t want my daughters growing up unnecessarily with the idea that God is male.”

The other was a retired gentleman from my congregation. Shortly before I left, he pointed out to me: “I notice that you use inclusive language for God in worship consistently. And I think it’s a very good thing.”

The most straightforward ways we do this is by simply using non-gender references to God:

  • Instead of “he” and “him,” we use “God.”
  • Instead of heavy use of “Father” (which we use a lot), we make a point to intersperse it with “Heavenly Mother” and “Creator.”

At the end of the day, simple gestures of this kind enable us to act in ways that do not continue to foster the idea of God with which many of us grew up: that of an old, bearded, white male in the sky.

It feels awkward at first. But with time it feels very natural. It felt just as awkward to the church people who first started to use “fishers of people” (vs. fishers of men). It probably felt just as awkward to those who changed from using “Thou” and “Thee” language in the Psalms to “you” language. But they made the change, and we are grateful.

I remember a good friend of mine who grew up in church hearing a non-gender inclusive Bible (as many of us did). She remembers one day then asking her mother: “Mom, is Jesus interested in having women disciples?”

It’s remarkable the things we say, without necessarily trying to say them. …as church leaders, we do well to consider more intentionally beforehand what we say, so that our words convey better what we mean to say.

SUNITHA MORTHA: MISSION AND ACCOMPANIMENT by Carina Schiltz, second year M.Div.

SUNITHA MORTHA: MISSION AND ACCOMPANIMENT by Carina Schiltz, second year M.Div.

Sunitha Mortha, Director of Mission Formation in the Global Mission Unit of the ELCA, visited Wartburg this Spring and talked about our calling as followers of Christ and learning what it means to accompany others in a diverse world.

If you’ve attended a “Glocal Gathering” you might have heard Sunitha’s humorous, direct, and compassionate words. She highlighted the importance of going “back to the basics” and relating “God’s story, my story, and your story.” First of all, how do we understand God’s story? Based on this understanding, how do we place ourselves in this story? How do we view the “other” in relation to our understanding of the story? Sunitha said, “Now, try doing all this reflecting without putting yourself in God’s place.”

She went on to ask, “Where are the other Lutherans in the world?” Countries with more than five million include the usual answers: Germany, the United States and Sweden. But one also needs to include in that number, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Indonesia!

Sunitha asked the audience, “How does your church understand its place in God’s story? Are churches looking only inward? Do they think about what’s happening on synodical levels? Community levels? National levels? International levels? People, congregations, seminaries, synods are not separate: they work together. How does your congregation/seminary partner with other people and organizations? In other words…how does this relate to ‘mission’?”

One way people view mission is through their culture’s, community’s, or congregation’s narrative about origin and destination. This narrative informs how mission is understood and the purpose of mission. For an example, Sunitha explained that if the dominant destination narrative of a community is heaven/hell, there is a certain way one understands oneself and the “other” and where they belong. When there is a separating line between “us” and “them,” it is not difficult to see which place we’ll designate for “them”.

Those we categorize as “them” or “other” could be for any number of reasons, but the number one reason is that, somehow, they are “different” from us.

Diversity sometimes causes fight or flight because we are socialized to learn that the way we do things is the good/right/normal/true way. If “we” do things the “normal” way, what “the other” does is considered “abnormal.” Unfortunately, the history of missions has included the transfer of cultural and national values, which has been very damaging to the “receiving” culture. Those in the dominant culture see others as needing to “evolve” in order to “catch up.”

Hopefully, our communities and congregations can understand that the defining question in mission is not, “How does one categorize/define/change the other to be like us?”  but rather, “How does one engage the other?” First, we have to take out the barriers between “my” story and “your” story. There is much that informs a person’s being that is deeper than meets the eye.

Sunitha offered a very relevant caution: a danger in the ELCA, and in many facets of life, is to surround ourselves only with like-minded people, ideologies, theologies, and thereby focus only on ourselves, rather than resting in justification. While we cannot hold all our differences, uniqueness, cultures, sub-cultures, and everything in one’s being in tension with another’s, God can.

She asked, “What if your community doesn’t look diverse, or what if it has no ‘others’? There is plenty of diversity, whether it be invisible to the eye or visible; there are others, outsiders, and many people who need to hear the liberating proclamation of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If one’s congregation is not visibly diverse, one can think cross-generationally. “Start with what diversity is present,” she said. Accompaniment happens every day! Mission isn’t always about going “over there.”It’s about engagement, wherever one is.

If you want more information, visit the ELCA’s website on Glocal Gatherings near you.

http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Global-Mission/Engage-in-Global-Mission/Global-Events/Glocal-Mission-Gatherings.aspx

POEM – DREAM ME, GOD by Dorothee Soelle

As published in Dorothee Soelle: Mystic and Rebel by Renate Wind (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2012), p. 1

It’s not you who should solve my problems, God,
But I yours, God of the asylum-seekers.
It’s not you who should feed the hungry,
But I who should protect your children
From the terror of the banks and armies,
It’s not you who should make room for the refugees,
But I who should receive you,
Hardly hidden God of the desolate

You dreamed me, God,
Practicing walking upright
And learning to kneel down
More beautiful than I am now,
Happier than I dare to be
Freer than our country allows.

Don’t stop dreaming me, God.
I don’t want to stop remembering
That I am your tree,
Planted by the streams
of living water.

Translated from the German, “Träume Mich, Gott” in das Brot der Ermutigung (Stuttgart: Kreuz, 2008),

MY “DO SOMETHING” JOURNEY by Ivy Adams, WTS spouse

Several weeks before Lent began, I started forming a plan in my mind that I would give up something for Lent. Every year I chat with my husband about this as I brainstorm and pray about what it is that I really want to sacrifice for these 40 days. His response is always the same, “You don’t have to give up anything.” That answer always surprises me because all my life growing up Catholic, in my home, and in our church, we all participated in this Lenten practice. To not think about what to give up and not to participate was unheard of. However, it always seemed that I could never withstand the entire 40 days, meaning I never made it to the “finish line,” so to speak. I always wondered why that was, and as an adult who is more confident in my faith and married to a seminarian, I am reminded that Christ’s love never ends, I am a sinner, and I am forgiven.

Rather than be miserable without the comforts of what I had given up, why not set out on a journey that would be enjoyable? This would be a journey that inspired me, along with family and friends, and members of my community. I decided that I would challenge myself and inspire others to live out a 40 day journey called “Do Something.”

“Do Something” became a blog that I write for everyday of Lent. Each blog post inspires the reader, believer, or non-believer to engage in activities that promote well-being, healthy eating and exercise, acts of service, caring for others, helping the needy, and encouraging them to become involved in their community or organization of their choice.

When I first began, I had no idea how I would encourage people for 40 days. Sure, for a week or two, but 40 days? How was I ever going to do this? We live in such a connected world through social networking, online blogs, video chatting, texting, twitter; the list goes on and on. I knew that I would have an audience, but could I really inspire people to think and do acts of kindness outside their comfort zone? Maybe.

I do know that I am held accountable for blogging every day during Lent, whether people are reading it or not. This is the Lenten journey that I chose, and while I don’t always have the opportunity to post the blog first thing in the morning, I do post it during that day sometime and who knows, maybe someone is up late, not able to sleep, and they stumble across my blog. They may become moved and inspired, ready to try something new, even if it’s one person out of so many in the online world.

If you wish to see the blog of my Lenten journey, and participate in “Doing Something,” visit punkrock2preacher.blogspot.com.

Book Review: MEETING GOD ON THE CROSS: Christ, the Cross, and the Feminist Critique

MEETING GOD ON THE CROSS: Christ, the Cross, and the Feminist Critique
By Arnfridur Gudmundsdottir
New York: Oxford, 2010, 175 pages
Reviewed by Norma Cook Everist, WTS Professor of Church and Ministry

There is a broad spectrum of views on the possibilities of retrieving and reconstructing nonpatriarchal Christologies. “Is the cross of Christ a symbol of hope or a sign of oppression?” asks Gudmundsdottir, Lutheran pastor and Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Iceland. In Meeting God on the Cross, she presents a clear, straightforward historic overview of Christology and feminist approaches.

She begins with Lutheran laywoman Rachel Conrad Wahlberg’s books, Jesus According to a Woman and Jesus and the Freed Woman. She gives overviews of the work of Daphne Hampson, Carter Heyward, and Mary Daly that encourage readers to seek out their original works. Gudmundsdottir identifies with Elizabeth Johnson whose feminist Christology serves to redeem the name of Christ from domineering oppressive uses for the healing of humankind. (Eastertide 2011, over 75 Lutheran women in religious studies, theology and pastoral ministry, including Gudmundsdottir, wrote an open letter of support to Dr. Johnson whose recent book has been criticized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.)

Gudnumdsottir goes on to give substantive and succinct perspectives of the cross as a hermeneutical tool, from Paul to Origen to Luther to Moltmann. She draws a distinction between use and abuse of a theology of the cross, believing a feminist retrieval of this doctrine must unveil the distortion of patriarchal Christology, which still exists, and avoid making suffering, particularly women’s suffering, a virtue. God participates in the world’s suffering, bringing hope into hopeless situations.

Gudmundsdottir, who so clearly presents many voices, has found her own. I look forward to her future work showing that the cross and resurrection liberate and empower women and men to share power for the transformation of theology, ministry and the church itself.  This book would be very useful in a colleague study group or college or seminary classroom.