Official Publication of the LMS-USA
Volume 10, Number 4
In this Issue:
The Sacred and the Profane
by Rev. John Erickson
Definition of Terms
The dictionary defines sacred as - "set apart for religious use; pertaining to God or religion; consecrated; to be held in reverence" [New Concise Webster's Dictionary]. Profane, on the other hand, is defined as - "to desecrate; not sacred, secular; irreverent, blasphemous [New Concise Webster's Dictionary].
It is not unusual that when it comes to certain terms, the Bible's understanding of things is somewhat more narrow than what is found in ordinary usage. Certainly this is the case when it comes to the terms sacred and profane. From the point of view of the Bible, that which is sacred and/or profane, is so, as it pertains to God and to the things of God; God, of course, being the God of the Scripture, i.e., the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is an important distinction to make because that which some might consider sacred or religious, as, for example, it pertains to their, or to that of another's religion, the Bible may not. It may, in fact, consider such to be quite the opposite, i.e., profane, irreverent, or blasphemous.
Before and after the Fall
When, at the time of creation, God paused and looked over "all that he had made," he concluded, "it was very good" (Gen. 1:31). He, the thrice Holy God, saw what he had made and it was not just good; it was very good. There was nothing that had been made that was less than good. But then sin entered into the world, and everything was changed. The earth itself was placed under a curse. Humankind would, from that time forward, be born "in sin" (Ps. 51:5). The result? Now there is "no one righteous, not even one . . . no one understands . . . no one seeks God . . . all have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one" (Rom. 3:10-12). Things could never again be as they once were. God could no longer "walk in their midst" as he once had (Gen. 8). There could no longer be close fellowship between God and man as there once was (see I Cor. 6:14-17, "What fellowship can light have with darkness....") unless man should somehow be changed, i.e., made different, made holy.
Thus, from the time of the fall and on, God would have to call out from the world, those who should be his. Those who responded to that call, would then be God's people, i.e., "the called out ones," holy, separated to God. "I am Holy," God says (Lev. 19:2; 21:8), now you, "Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God . . . I am the Lord, who makes you holy" (Lev. 20:7; 2 Cor. 6:17).
God, in the person of his own Son, Jesus Christ, has made possible that the profane can be made sacred; that fallen, sinful man can be raised up again. Those who are in Christ Jesus are set apart - made holy, made different - from all that which is a part of the profane world all around them. Jesus, speaking to his Father spoke of them, I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world." A bit later he said it again, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of it." (John 17:14,16).
God's people are a holy people. God's people are different from the ordinary/common. God's people would be people made new and different by the power of God. Speaking as a Christian to Christians, Paul writes, "From now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.... if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (II Cor. 5:16-17)
The implications of all this for the people of God
Having been made new has broad implications for the child of God. It is to be seen in what we think: "... whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things" (Phil. 4:8). It is to be seen in what we desire and seek after: ". . . seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God." It is to be seen in what we do: Paul as the teacher wrote to the Philippians, "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put into practice." (See Galatians 5:16-26 as an example of Paul's teaching).
Without going into any more detail, one can readily see where this emphasis on the holy is sorely lacking in much of the Church today. A large part of the problem is that the Church itself, as an institution, is falling far short in what she herself should be about. Much of the Church in our day would be unable to exhort her people as Paul admonished those under his care in the Philippian Church, i.e., "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put into practice." What is it that we learn, or receive, or hear, or see in much of the church today?
What do I mean?
As already said, to profane is to make common. In the Old Testament, holy things, things which had been set aside for religious use by God's people, were things not open to people in general. The book of Leviticus makes clear, that holy things, things set aside for religious use, and/or things pertaining to God, were for holy people (people who were themselves set apart to or for God). That which was not set apart (that which was common, i.e., profane) was forbidden to come into contact with that which was sacred [The Harper Collins Dictionary of Religion].
In far too many circles today, the distinction between churched and unchurched, between those in the family of God and those not in the family of God is nonexistent. Rather than looking to the directives of Scripture, to the ministry of our Lord and his Apostles, multitudes of churches today are seeking to 'evangelize' using Madison Avenue techniques. We are being told that to label yourselves as Lutheran, or Methodist, or Baptist or whatever, will be detrimental to the 'success' of your church. The result? Few churches today hold to any distinctives in their theology.
"Seeker" services are a big thing. The liturgy and music of a traditional church is foreign to those outside the church. It should not be used, or if it is used, then at least, it should not be used in the most ideal worship time slot. Move your traditional service to Saturday evening or early Sunday morning. The sermons should be topical, focusing on topics the people want to hear, not too biblical, that turns people off. These are the things we are being told today.
It has been forgotten that the Church is for the family of God. Far to many have fallen for the idea that we need to make our worship (the sacred) more acceptable to those we want to bring into the church (the common). The result? The common has been brought into the sacred. The sacred has been polluted. It has been adulterated. In our attempts to win the world, we have brought the world into the church with the result that there is little, if anything, left there to convert to. And now that those of the world are comfortable in the church, where are the people of God going to find that which can satisfy the hunger and thirst of their souls? All that is left is the "lukewarm" pottage of the Laodicean church, the very thing our Lord condemns (see Revelation 3:16).
They (those of the world) do not understand what goes on in the church? It makes no sense to them? Then it is up to us, who are in the church, to help them understand that which is better (the sacred). We must not drag the sacred down to their level. We must rather encourage them to lift their sights to something higher, to that which is truly holy. The Gospel hymn writer put it this way, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus (the Holy). . . and the things of earth (the profane) will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace." Initiation of new members has historically been the role of the church. Initiation implies helping persons become familiar with something not now familiar to them. It implies that the church is something different from the common, different from the ordinary.
The following is a prayer for the dedication of a place of worship. It is obvious that the place, and what is to be done there, is not common. What a difference the church would make in the world today if the church was intentional in being what God has called it to be.
|"Almighty and everlasting God, whom the Heaven of heavens cannot contain, yet who are willing to have an House fashioned by man, wherein Thine honor dwelleth and where men may worship Thee: Of Thy love and mercy, we beseech Thee, vouchsafe Thy presence here, that this Church, which we have reared to the glory of thy Name and do now wholly devote and dedicate to Thee, may be accepted and hallowed, to the end that souls may here be gathered, nourished in Thy love, and made fruitful in Thy service; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Blest and dedicate be this Evangelical Lutheran Church of ____________ to the glory and honor of Almighty God, and to the service of His Holy Church; in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."|
|(Occasional Services book of the Service Book and Hymnal)|
Our calling as a Church is to call to those outside the church to come out from the common and profane, and into the holy and sacred. God grant that we be faithful in our calling to him who calls people to himself, out of darkness and into his marvelous light."
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Whatsoever Things Are -- Holy!
Think on those things!
by Rev. Ralph Spears
My first taste of the mystery of Holiness and Divine Worship in contrast with the profane came the very first time I was called on to preach and lead worship. The experience was not unlike Isaiah with the 'who will go for us' question. There was no one else available. So at the age of seventeen and a counselor at Lutheran Camp Mowana, I was called one Saturday afternoon to lead the Service next day at a small mission church two hours away. The Lord put his words into Isaiah's mouth after he had answered, "Here I am send me!" And Isaiah had - as you remember - quite a lot to say. With me there was just a few hours to prepare 'words' for my mouth and take a few pointers in leading Divine worship before taking the old camp Chevy and heading off a hundred and twenty-five miles through the early morning fog. I couldn't begin to compare myself with the greatest Old Testament prophet, but like Isaiah, I was little more than a kid with "unclean lips"!
But the real surprise was yet to come. Because where the directions and the Lord sent me was really a dance hall - part of a lodge rented by the Lutheran mission in Newton Center, Ohio.
The hall, smelling of beer and stale cigarette smoke from the night before, was now set up for 'church'. And protruding from behind the make shift pulpit where I would deliver my first sermon, was a huge jukebox looking quite out of place in the now, ecclesiastical setting.
The Gospel Lesson for that Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, was "The Good Samaritan" and I was struggling not to get 'rolled' like the poor man who had fallen among the thieves!
Most remarkable however, was the fact that as the Introit was spoken, the dance hall faded away and we were in Church.
It was not my doing of course, I only recognized that it had happened, the worldly had been set aside and the Holy had emerged like the effects of some magic act of transformation.
|How do we make the common - Holy? That has been the question since paradise was compromised by the eating of the fruit, which bought the profane to our knowledge along with the good. Actually, we don't, but God does through a remarkable array of rituals and practices made available to us from above so that we might rise beyond the common and vain.|
Huge stones and steel were raised up on end to form groupings, and altars were fashioned of the smaller stones by pouring holy oil upon their un-graven apex.
Ordinary 'stuff' was dyed blue, purple and scarlet from cleverly detected sources of these hues and hung on poles of gold that did not rust so that the raw desert became Holy ground enclosed within their structures!
And Words were given to mimic the ineffable WORD of Creation so that men so trained as priests could become channels of the creativeness of that WORD and God could literally 'speak' to man.
There is really no secret to it. Note the detail of instruction in Exodus and Numbers. The way was led by The Ark of the Covenant a carefully crafted, gold plated, effects and storage chest. The Ark made visible to all that "God Himself Was Present" by a spark of His ineffable presence "from between the (two) seraphim" as the Psalm says, atop the box. This would do until a permanent structure could be crafted for a more settled but no more obedient society, the great Temple of Jerusalem the precursor of the later cathedrals of Christian worship.
The active exercise of worship should be a natural thing for mankind to do. Or to put it another way, we were worshippers first even before we were sinners since Original Righteousness of necessity came before Original Sin.
Worship then is a natural act of celebrating our true nature. Worship should not be awkward, unnatural or stilted - let alone - stuffy. Yet because we are human, and the world unlike original creation - is not perfect, those qualities do slip in and make themselves, all too well known.
|So in the world it had become an early practice to separate the Holy from the common or earthy, to make provision to keep that which is holy - safe, secure, and recognizable. Practice of the Holy could be elaborate, dramatic and effective especially when contrasted with the un-Holy. Under the guidance of Joshua as he led the children of Israel at last into the promised land, the Holy Mountain of blessing was distinguished from Mount Ebal, the bald mountain of the curse (continued in practice later by the Samaritans who inhabited that area). The whole nation took part and acted out the difference between the two, in elaborate and dramatic ritual. The Blessing and the curse, good and evil, leading to life or death, from Moses' last address (in Deuteronomy 30) were vividly portrayed in a protracted, one-act play. This was further mirrored in the clean and the unclean of ritual, public and even private, personal practice.|
Worship was on the high places and the 'mountain top experience' was literal just as Mt. Moriah the windy threshing floor site that God first showed to Abraham, became Temple Mount for Solomon's Temple. The Holy of Holies now had a permanent locus as the very center of worship around the self-same stone (where Abraham would have sacrificed his son Isaac) for all believers. It would be just the first time that angels made their appearance there. Behind the veil of the Temple rested the old Ark of the Covenant -the portable version and the original Holy of Holies (from between the Seraphim on the top of the Ark). Modern archeologists have discerned marks in the floor adjacent to that famous stone, which match the dimensional proportions of the Ark within the Holy of Holies. High Priests were inspired by visions, such as that of Zachariah who was there visited by Gabriel. Just so the prophet, Isaiah in the aforementioned vision, saw smoke and Seraphim emanating from that place as the threshold shook - to announce the Lord's ineffable presence as he, Isaiah, worshipped the Thrice Holy God. Those words echo still in the hymns of the worshiping Church, "Holy, Holy, Holy," but now, for the Trinity of blessed light!
Why is it then, that we seem to have such a problem with Holiness, with that distinguishing Holiness?
Holiness means simply set apart, we might say - special because that which is holy is set apart from the ordinary of everyday. That which is not holy can be common, showing a lack of refinement or even profane showing a deliberate lack of respect. In fact, profane derives from profanus (Lat.) which means literally 'outside the temple'. Profanity is most often deliberately and actively opposed to holiness, the point of the Second Commandment (and the Third) which sets the standard for separation of the sacred and the profane. Jesus would continue the analogy of that Commandment by suggesting that we neither 'give the dogs what is holy' nor 'cast pearls before swine.'
This refers us back to the First (and great) Commandment for if we fear and love the Lord, Our God (completely) in our encounter with Him, the proper standard of respect with all of its properties (love, honor, obedience) are elicited from us. The bowing of the face to the ground, the feeling of unworthiness (or unclean lips), and the sense of awe, are almost automatic and most appropriate responses to the overwhelming presence of Holiness.
The encounter with the Holy was not without other outward signs such as the bush that was illumined with the fire of light but not consumed, a dream or vision that showed that a common appearing place was actually Holy, as in the dream of Jacob or the vision of Ezekiel. How about Paul's account of being caught up to the third heaven. And of course the several incidents in both testaments of angels or messengers who speak directly - their message from God. But even though we may not often encounter angels at least in so obvious a way, still we need the sensitivity to the extraordinary within the ordinary and the voice of God within our everyday world, which is a property of our Faith.
It is as important to distinguish the Sacred from the profane, as it is to separate the Gospel from the law because the two comparisons are as analogous as Sunday worship is to Monday morning's hard reality.
Is our problem then in not letting God be God? Is it because we upstage the Almighty replacing the Word of God with the precepts of men or the Divine presence with the 'noise of solemn assemblies?' Is that the presumptuous sin spoken of by the Psalms (?) and all because we can not "be still" (within) "and know God" - as Psalm 46 directs? If so it is a subtle but deadly move for any would be "child of God!"
Mixing the clean and the unclean!
Flying to Israel one November, my seat mate remarked at the sight of an orthodox Hasidic American Jew standing up to carefully replace his coat several rows ahead. 'Why the black felt hat over his jamulka, why the side braid but why especially the large sash tied at the belt line about him with another around his right arm?' After explaining the Talmudic reasons to keep the head formally covered and the practice not to cut the hair (as would a Nazorite), I explained further the belief in practice, that the upper body was considered clean, and thus separated from the lower body unclean for obvious reasons, the right hand was to perform the clean functions and the left hand, the unclean. The ancient Essenes even insisted that one use only the right hand when gesticulating in conversation or be penalized for improper practice.
If the Hasidim, "the pure" believers, perhaps over did the separation of clean and unclean, Holy and profane; we barely even consider that separation today. We mix and blend things together that belong carefully separate. We would not - for instance - mix together sugar and table salt (an old April fools prank) which would 'adulterate' both, but we might think nothing of mixing together the sacred and the profane even in our worship. Adultery by the way, is the mixing of two things - in this case people - which do not belong together.
How about the place where we worship? That enclosed space is dedicated to the sanctity of Divine Worship and it becomes further hallowed by what happens there. The sanctuary is so named because we have sanctuary from the world in this space set apart for worship. I once heard it said - and since have come to believe - that if you enter a church's area of worship, it is possible to sense what kind of worship activity happens there. There should be no great mystery to the fact that the practice of divine worship rubs off on the place that is regularly used for that purpose. Even though you can worship in a dance hall or a lodge or a school hall, Divine Worship works best in the area dedicated to worship. That mission Church back in Ohio was determined to build their own place for worship so that they could leave behind the dance hall, jukebox and the persistent odor of cigarette smoke.
It is more than interesting that even people who do not go to church or worship regularly have an innate sense of what should and what should not happen in a church. Why? Because, we have never lost that innate sense of the importance and the power available to us in the worship of Our God! I like many other pastors - have known transient people who have asked to just come inside and sit in church because they know what that experience can offer in contrast to the hard reality of the street.
In a Lutheran church, the altar and cross in the center and the pulpit to the side (but of prominence equal to it), speaks of the importance of the Word and Sacrament in our practice. Sadly, many newer church buildings are built to look less like a church than a movie theater. Rather than sanctuary from the world, the space looks more like the world. Further, it seems to welcome other activities and gatherings that have nothing to do with worship so that the sanctity of that space - is compromised when the adulteration of events is allowed to take place.
Music to the soul
What is more important to the accompaniment of Divine Worship than music? Yes, the architectural arrangement of space is important along with the proper provision for colors and symbols, but nothing touches the soul like the right music. A hymn (or anthem) can be a whole theology lesson in itself in poetic rhythm yet augmented by the tune. Why just the tune itself, can evoke the whole power of the hymn as it nudges the memory to life in an instant of meaning! Appropriate music is very important as any musician may attest. In fact nothing can make or break the experience of worship for an individual like hymns and the musical setting.
What is the thing most often talked about - for good or bad -concerning worship? Is it the sermon or the liturgy? No, by far, it is the hymns and the music. And hymnody often defines the uniqueness of a particular denomination. With Lutherans it is the use of the German or Scandinavian chorale tune often centuries old sometimes traced to a chant melody even older. While often new Lutherans have the most problem with the fact that favorite hymns are not a part of the tradition.
Because music is such an adaptable art form, hymns and liturgical music also provide some of the greatest dichotomies of mixing and questions of adulteration. And for Lutherans it is that, our anthem of greatest meaning, A Mighty Fortress is a mixture of the high and lofty concepts of Psalm 46 and a lively German beer hall melody which Martin Luther appropriated from the devil, because of his now well known comment that "the devil should not have all of the good melodies!" None of us thinks of the beer hall or dance hall (let alone jukeboxes), when we sing Ein Festa Burg but herein lies an underlying irony of music and the arts. It can be summed up in the question of taste by the maxim; "we like what we like!"
Can Christians then who agree on nearly everything else dislike each other's favorite hymn due to their backgrounds? Quite possibly!
So then are music and hymns only a matter of taste? No they are not! Music is the most universally accepted language and as a language it conveys whole moods, emotions and ranges of rationality, while the verse of words speaks whole thoughts in clear fashion when properly understood. (That is why the marriage of the two can be so powerful!)
Look at the quality of the hymns by Johann Gerhardt and words by Issac Watts or Martin Luther or the musical settings by Johann Cruger and J.S. Bach; and you will behold the genius in each phrase and verse that needs no up dated translation. Even a rather simple hymn not of the Lutheran tradition says it all; Take Time To Be Holy!
So then let us separate that divine Holiness from the profane and let it begin with our sanctuaries of worship. There are mundane events that just don't belong there because there is where we worship. Enough said! On the other hand there are some sanctuaries that hardly 'feel' special at all. I remember one small mission Church sanctuary where I actually spent a part of each day praying that a sense of Holiness could be there better established. The reason was that it felt like too much of the 'multi-purpose', had rubbed off on the room that should have been used only for Worship. We should feel like that line from the (Benjamin) Schmolck Hymn (Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty) "O How blessed is this place, filled with solace light and grace."
Certainly this approaches the experience of Isaiah in the Great Temple when he first heard the, "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY" and was overwhelmed by the presence of HE whose very NAME could not even be spoken by mere mortal man.
Then perhaps we might be able to discern that which is HOLY once more, that which stands out even amidst the common everyday. For we are to be " in the world but not of the world". We are children of God and are reminded of this when we worship properly. Or as one anonymous writer penned it, "We are not secular people in a spiritual world, we are Spiritual people in a secular world!"
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Are We Saved by Faith?
by Rev. Jeffrey A. Iverson
An evangelical radio preacher was recently heard stressing the phrase over and over again "we are saved by faith," "we are saved by faith." At first hearing, this phrase sounds good to our Lutheran ears. We certainly know that we are not saved by works - that's what the reformation was all about. "Saved by faith" is a phrase that is even used in Scripture. In the Gospels, Jesus tells a woman "who was a sinner" that "Your faith has saved you" (Luke 7:37, 50 NRSV).
So the notion of "saved by faith" is not only Scriptural, but also meaningful when contrasted with being saved by works. So when the evangelical preacher says we are "saved by faith," "saved by faith," why do our Lutheran sensibilities, after initially being assuaged, still feel a bit uneasy? The answer is: it depends upon what one means by faith. Is faith an unmerited gift bestowed by the grace of God, as Lutherans believe, or is faith a personal quality that one manifests in oneself by making a "decision" to "accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior," or some such thing? If truth be told, for most of those in American Evangelicalism, the second is the case. Faith for these folks is something that one acquires by an action of one's own free will. Theologically, this belief is known as "Arminianism" or "decision theology", but it really is "works righteousness" all over again. For you see, it doesn't matter if your work is an act of charity, the buying of an indulgence, or a decision of your human will: when one believes that he or she himself or herself is contributing in any way to his or her own salvation, that is the false doctrine of synergism. This, like all false doctrine, leads us away from the Gospel and can result in losing salvation.
Lutherans prefer the more complete formulation expressed by Paul in Ephesians 2:8 "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God - not the result of works, so that no one may boast (NRSV). We are saved by grace through faith. Faith is not something we earn or work up in ourselves; faith is something that God gives us.
Analogies always have weaknesses, but a helpful one Christians have used to understand the concept of being saved by grace through faith is to imagine one's self in a tempestuous sea - a sea of sin that surely will end in death. God, by his grace, puts a lifeboat under us, a lifeboat we will call "faith." Clinging to this lifeboat of faith, we are able to survive surrounded by the stormy sea of sin. Now what has "saved" us? The lifeboat of faith? Yes, in certain sense, we are saved "by" the lifeboat, but how did we come to have it? We came to have it only by the grace of God. Some try to build their own lifeboat (works righteousness) and some try to will a lifeboat into being (decision theology), but these attempts always fail. They may give one a false comfort for a while, but sin, death, and the power of the devil are too strong for flimsy crafts built by our own effort. The only "lifeboat" that is strong enough to save us is the faith that comes to us by the grace of God.
How does God give us the lifeboat of faith? Through the Means of Grace: God's Word and Sacraments. These means are living, active, and effective:
|For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11, NRSV)|
Baptism, "brings about forgiveness of sins, redeems from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe it, as the words and promise of God declare." ("Luther's Small Catechism," Kolb, Robert, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand. The Book of Concord : The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000).
In the Lord's Supper, "The words 'given for you' and 'shed for you for the forgiveness of sins' show us that forgiveness of sin, life, and salvation are given to us in the sacrament through these words, because where there is forgiveness of sin, there is also life and salvation." (Luther's Small Catechism, Book of Concord, Kolb edition).
God gives us the lifeboat of faith through Word and Sacraments, and strengthens our lifeboat of faith each time we return to them. Can we lose this "lifeboat" of faith? The short answer is "yes." This is affirmed by our Lutheran Confessions: "Rejected here are those who teach that whoever has once become righteous cannot fall again." (AC, Art. XII, Book of Concord, Kolb edition). We have all seen it happen. Someone who once had a lifeboat of faith, through neglect or sometimes through deliberate evilness reject the faith they once had, but this is their own doing - not God's. They let the lifeboat slip away or even push it away until they are again lost in the sea of sin. But if this should happen to us or a loved one, we can trust that a gracious God is standing by with another lifeboat. Again, as our Confessions tell us: "Concerning repentance it is taught that those who have sinned after baptism obtain forgiveness of sins whenever they come to repentance and that absolution should not be denied them by the church" (AC, Art. XII, Book of Concord, Kolb edition).
So do we need to worry about losing our faith? Yes and no. Yes, because it is a real possibility, and no, because if we are worrying about it, we cannot really lose it: We will cling to our Baptism, immerse ourselves in God's Word, and partake of the Lord's Supper. These are things we can trust because they come from God.
So are we saved by faith? Yes, the lifeboat of faith saves us, but we rejoice that we don't have to depend upon a flimsy lifeboat built by our own works or will, for we have a lifeboat given to us by God: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God - not the result of works, so that no one may boast (NRSV). Amen.
Rev. Jeffrey A. Iverson is pastor of Word of God Lutheran Church, Brooklyn Park, MN
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Installation of Pastor Michael Vahle
The Service of Installation for Pastor Michael Vahle at Our Savior Lutheran Church, Memphis, Tennessee was one of the most joyous that the older members could remember in quite some time. Spirits were high and the music festive as the members invested their pastor with symbols of the ministry of Word and Sacrament. Pastor Ralph Wm. Spears spoke of the long unbroken train of service of those who answer the Call from the Prophets and Apostles to the present in "Who Follow In His Train!" In bringing the greetings from The Lutheran Ministerium and Synod, he commented on the special significance of the day because his parents and family were instrumental in establishing the congregation over forty years ago. A few of those original members along with their children and grandchildren participated in the Service.
Eleven members of the African American Church around the corner with their pastor answered the invitation along with a sprinkling of other interested Lutherans to the Church just a quarter of a mile above the Mississippi State line on S. Elvis Presley Blvd. which was spruced up for the affair. Pastor Vahle, whose Mother and Sister came down to Indianapolis, has already made an impressive mark there with his enthusiasm and confidence. Already his combined Confirmation Class on the Lutheran Confessions is well attended by both youth and adults.
Installation of Pastor John Erickson
The Rev. John Erickson of Chetek was installed as Pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church of Cameron on Sunday, Nov. 16, at 3 p.m. The festive service was followed by a supper prepared by the ladies of the congregation.
The Rev. Erickson is the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church (LMS) of Chetek and Synod Chairman of the LMS-USA. St. John's congregation of Cameron is a congregation of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. This arrangement came together after almost a year of talks and was made possible because these two synods share a common confession.
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