Global Mission Sunday: Photos, Films, and Poetry

This past Sunday, Guest Lauren Amundson from Young Adults in Global Mission was our preacher and we celebrated the work of our global church...over fifty each of sewn quilts, school bags, and personal care quilts to ship overseas.  No recorded sermon but check out the poem from worship and view the video from Lutheran World Relief if you missed it.  They have many more inspiring short videos at https://lwr.org/videos.  Click the link!

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Lutheran World Relief receives these donations.  This organization stays on in communities working with local partners for years after devastating events.  This video documents the achievements after Typhoon Haiyan.

Here is the blessings we read over the quilts, a blessing for those who are suffering by poet John O'Donahue:

May you be blessed in the holy names of those

Who, without you knowing it,

Help to carry and lighten your pain.

 May you know serenity

When you are called

To enter the house of suffering.

May a window of light always surprise you.

May you be granted the wisdom

To avoid false resistance;

When suffering knocks on the door of your life,

May you glimpse its eventual gifts.

May you be able to receive the fruits of suffering.

May memory bless and protect you

With the hard-earned light of past travail;

To remind you that you have survived before

And though the darkness now is deep,

You will soon see approaching light.

May the grace of time heal your wounds.

May you know that though the storm might rage,

Not a hair of your head will be harmed.

9/24/17 The Sermon I Never Preach

Jonah 3:10-4:11, Psalm 145:1-8, Matthew 20:1-16

Above all, the prophets remind us of the moral state of people: few are guilty, but all are responsible.
— Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel in The Prophets
Thank you to all the Sunday School teachers around the world who make THIS happen.

Thank you to all the Sunday School teachers around the world who make THIS happen.

Sermon Notes

I rarely preach this kind of sermon.  I hardly ever spend my time in the pulpit telling everyone what a bunch of miserable, undeserving "maggots" we are. (Ah, quotable Luther! He thought that of himself at times.) I don't exactly do this here.  But I talk about who deserves what and I level the playing field as to our own notions of entitlement.  I resist this classical mold of preaching because I don't think it encourages a healthy approach to ourselves or to our work especially in my specific community. I don't think it encourages a right relationship to God either.  I am a law/gospel preacher, but it's a little more out of the box than tapping into the anxieties we already have about ourselves and reinforcing dangerous attitudes about our powerlessness and lack of worth.  So there you have it. 

But I did this Sunday. And it was largely successful....as in, people heard it.  It fascinates me that my congregation loves these kinds of convict and redeem (law/gospel) sermons.  Perhaps it's familiar terrain for these American protestants, a throwback to the piety and narratives of former times.  Or are we suckers for punishment?  I wondered about that until yesterday when it occurred to me, maybe there is something freeing about being told our needs aren't any more legitimate than anyone else's needs.  Maybe it's about wanting to be like everyone else in our helplessness and our sin-bearing.  Maybe it's a relief to know we aren't special, but that we are common before God.  Common and breathing together.  So I'm going with that -- I like the idea that we can be released by the Word into our shared human experience even when it's the shadows and undersides we'd rather not address.  Maybe we do need reminding how much we need God in just this kind of way more often than I've been willing to preach.

You may not hear it again for awhile.  So soak it up while you can!  

And by the way, in former days, these two works were hugely influential on my young and pliable seeker mind - deeply influential writing on leading, sin, redemption, and responsibility: