Tuesday, January 29, 2019

A week late.

January 13's sermon on the Baptism of our Lord.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

February Newsletter Article--Speaking about Abortion

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ!
If you thought things were both culturally and politically disturbing in the US in 2018, I’m sorry to say 2019 seems to be following the same pace and direction so far.   Perhaps the most surreal moment to date was watching the galley of the New York State Legislature cheer the passing of a bill that expanding abortion by removing the 24 week limit, expanding the reasons for late-term abortion from the mother’s life to the mother’s life or health, and expanding the types of medical personnel who can perform abortions.   While the pro-choice people applaud it, and the pro-life people denounce it, to me it just seems so extreme.  There is no compromise in bill like that.   Later, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law.  
I do not speak about abortion much for a few reasons.  We live in a culture that frowns on men speaking on the matter (unless it’s a full-throated embrace of the pro-choice position).   Secondly, I don’t have any first hand experience on the matter (although I know that many readers will have been involved or adjacent to involvement regarding the decisions surrounding abortion).   Thirdly, since I don’t talk about it often, there is a high chance I would talk about abortion in a clumsy, unproductive manner.  So I have understood that, in America, the best-cast-scenario would be the politician's quote that abortion ought to be “legal, safe, and rare”.  If I had to deal with the issue pastorally, I would do all I could to dissuade an abortion.  Others will be working on “legal and safe”; I will be working on “rare” when I can.  
Yet, in the surrounding news that unfolded after the NY legislature, I came across a woman who does speak about abortion with grace, love, and gentleness.   And she has a rare perspective.   She survived an abortion.  I don’t mean she had an abortion and lived.  Rather, I mean in the 1970’s her biological mother underwent a saline injection designed to abort her.   Her name is Melissa Ohmed and she survived.    She’s got lots of stuff out there because she is a pro-life Christian , so google her or look on YouTube for her talks or get her book You Carried Me: a Daughter’s Memoir.   Her story is fascinating.  And as she tells it, time and time again, she mentions forgiveness. 
It’s a sure sign that a thing creates feeling of guilt and shame if it can be marched about in Washington, but in real-life only talked about in hushed tones.   I’ll never be a NY legislator.   I’m not likely to see a day when the debate is settled.   But I can tell of God’s forgiveness in Christ Jesus.   I can speak about abortion that way.
Peace in Christ,

Pastor Lance 
A sermon about the Scriptures

Monday, January 21, 2019

Recorded to an empty sanctuary one Monday morning.   Couldn't find my recorder on Sunday!

Special shout-out of thanks to the Soundcloud listeners.   When I started putting my sermons online, I always "any number more than zero of listeners is a SUCCESS".

Monday, January 7, 2019

January Newsletter--A brief reflection on 10 years of ordination and call

Grace and Peace to You from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

On January 3, 2009—surrounded by family, friends, colleagues, role models, and a bunch of people whom I scarcely knew and who called themselves members of Our Saviour Lutheran Church---I was on my knees and ordained as a minister of the church of Jesus Christ. Moments later I was installed as pastor of Our Saviour Lutheran Church. Yes, it has been a full decade. Except for marriage and fatherhood, I think it is longest single experience of my adult life.

It’s strange. I know of only one other in my graduating class who is at her original call. Many are their second or third calls. Some have left ministry altogether. Some have moved away from parish ministry and serve the church in other ways. Some have the left the ELCA and serve in other church bodies. And I have been here all the while. It is such a blessing because I feel like I am serving Christ in a way that not many pastors get to serve. Serving in one congregation for a decade makes me I feel like I am gaining a wisdom that many pastors do not get to achieve. I am not sure I can explain it and people seldom ask me for it, but I feel that way.

One of the secrets to serving a long term is for the pastor to actually like the people. I don’t recall the movie, but I recall a scene where a young man tells Jimmy Stewart (I think it was) he wants to marry a young woman. Stewart asks, “well, do you like her?” The young man enthusiastically responds, “Oh, yes, I love her”. Stewart rubs his chin and says, “I didn’t ask if you love her. I asked if you like her.” I can’t tell you the number of pastors I’ve met who behind closed doors really don’t seem to like their people. I am sure they would say that love them in some abstract sort of way. But it sees apparent to me that they don't have any real affection for them. A pastor has to appreciate quirks, moods, and differences. And when you do, it makes being a pastor a joy.

I don’t want to use this article to talk about how unique pastoral ministry is. Jesse Corbett used to say that he’d rather be a roofer than be a pastor. Me? I’ll stick to pastoring. I’ve had a lot of different work experiences, and I know every vocation has its ups and downs. I also know that having to sit down and think about a sermon when you are not in the mood feels an awful lot like the salesman having to make cold calls when he’s not in the mood for it. I just think being a pastor has a fascinating combination of joys, challenges and frustrations.

Thank you for letting me serve and thank you for helping me as we serve the Lord together. Peace in Christ, Pastor Lance+

Epiphany Sermon

St. John Chrysostom warned preachers to not seek out flattery after preaching.   Yet this one received some good feedback.  So f you like it, keep it to yourself.  😜