Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Yesterday was the commemoration of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession. Now, I am one of those geek types who actually read this thing years before I went to seminary. Why, you might ask, would I want to do that? Well, I was curious. I had heard about this book pastors talked about called The Book of Concord. When I would ask about it, the only answer I would get was "Now, the pastors have to study this when they are in seminary -- but it's nothing that YOU have to worry about." So of course, I wanted to see what this book was all about!

But I didn't really, I mean really, read the Augsburg Confession until I was questioning my faith, and what the Lutheran Church really taught, and if it was something that held up even in the worst of times. (And at that point in my life, it felt like the worst of times.) The Holy Spirit has quite the sense of humor, I believe, because the Augsburg Confession didn't come across as a pile of dry-as-dust teachings. It was ALIVE! And suddenly, I GOT IT! Justification through grace alone through faith alone through Christ alone was truly good news. Jesus had done it all; I really didn't have to a thing, not one single solitary blessed thing. How was I to respond to such an overwhelming gift? That was the real question, and one I am still trying to live out nearly 30 years later.

The Augsburg Confession changed my life. So, thank you, Melancthon, and Luther, and all those who were brave enough, and foolhardy enough, to trust in God's protection as they went up against all the forces of state and church in presenting this document. We are still reaping the benefits of this great gift.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A Conference and a Book

I will be gone for a few days at a conference in Northfield, MN. "Freedom and Authority in the Christian Life" is sponsored by the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. Michael Root is the executive director, and it was founded by Carl Braaten and Robert Jensen. I am looking forward to hearing Ephraim Radner, whom I have read but never heard in person, as well as Gilbert Meilaender. When I get back I will have to comment on this weekend's synod assemblies, both on the tally of those that have approved the Goodsoil memorials and on the elections for bishop. (I hear there is a surprise out of Lower Susquehanna.)

Right now I am reading "The Pickup" by Nadine Gordimer. I have not read much by her in the last few years. I read her voraciously for a while. Then with the changes in South Africa, she had to adjust to the new situation in her fiction. I ran across this book in the local Barnes and Noble and was intrigued. It is the story of a young white South African woman, Julie, who becomes involved with a garage mechanic, a "colored" as they say there, who is in the country illegally (he overstayed his visa). Now he has been discovered and ordered to leave the country. Will she go with him? If she does, can she adjust to this new life that will be unlike anything she has known up to now? I am only one third of the way through the book, but I think Gordimer has found her footing in the changes that have occured in her country. With all of the discussions going on right now regarding our own inability to deal with immigration to this country, both legal and illegal, this may give an different twist on that question.

As I Was Saying. . . .

I've been gone for a while. First I was sick. Not life threatening, but it was one of those "one thing leads to another" downward spirals into fatigue (bone-deep fatigue) and not caring about much of anything because being sick was taking up all of my thought and energy. That is mostly over with now. However, after that comes the trying to catch up with life phase, including work, family, and other details of existence. No energy for writing, either on this blog or anywhere else.

I am getting back to this now, just as my church body is in the midst of synod assembly season. I am also reading some good books (well, most of them are good; funny that when I was sick my ability to read anything went right out the window. I am now trying to catch up on that, also). I haven't seen any movies in about five months; folks tell me I haven't missed much. And I am trying as much as possible to avoid discussions about the possible candidates for president: I just don't want to go there yet. (Living next door to one of the traditional "first primary" states means I get plenty of that, anyway!)

So there will be more blogging from me very soon. God is good, even if the state of the ELCA is not!

On this weekend when many synods are meeting, and many are considering resolutions that may determine the future of this denomination, I am praying this prayer almost without ceasing. And so I commend it to anyone who might (for what reason I certainly do not know) stumble across this blog: from (I believe) Cranmer, this prayer for the Church:

"Gracious Father, we pray for your holy catholic Church. Fill it with all truth and peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in need, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ, your Son our Savior. Amen."