Going to Church with Garrison Keillor

Just read a piece by Garrison Keillor about going to church. One of the reasons he goes is because in the face of declining attendance he doesn’t want to be part of a trend. Parents should teach their kids that there is more to Sunday than video games and that Sunday doesn’t have to be the same as Saturday and Monday. Church is also the place when you can greet your fellow attendees with the peace of the Lord, something which won’t happen in the produce aisle of the supermarket. Then you confess your failures, receive forgiveness and everyone goes to communion together. He goes because for about an hour and a half he gets away from thinking about himself. His mind wanders during the sermon. He uses the time to think about and pray for an assortment of people and problems. (As does mine. I’m usually ‘writing” my own sermon and how I would treat the texts while I listen to someone’s treatment of the text. Though I am getting better of paying attention. If I was smarter, I would know how to copy and paste what Garrison actually said and you wouldn’t have to put up with my synopsis.)
He concludes with the thought that with all the shouting going on in our society during the week it’s well to be told as you are about the to leave the service, “Go in Peace, God Bless you. amen.”
For myself one of the reasons I go to church is that I get to sing some fantastic hymns with both depth of meaning and music. I also like to sing tenor when I can easily do so. though I wonder sometimes whether my boisterous singing bothers those around me. But Becky hasn’t told me to shut up yet, so I’ll just keep enjoying myself. Thanks Lord for the opportunity.

He Noticed Her

He Noticed Her

Often, we preachers use the story in Mark 12:38-44 of the widow who put her last two pennies in the temple offering box as an incentive for stewardship giving in church.  We may take another view of Jesus watching people in the temple.  Yes, Jesus people watched.

He noticed her.  His mother, Mary, was right when she sang more than thirty years before, “My soul magnifies the Lord…because He has looked kindly at His humble servant… and lifted up lowly people…those who were hungry He has filled with good things.”

He also knew the widow.  He knew she had put in everything she had.  She made herself a defenseless prey for the long-robed scribes, who while taking the best seats and devouring the food at banquets would leave and then devour the widows house even while issuing long prayers in behalf of the dispossessed poor and hungry.

The story ends with her impoverishment.  How will we write the end of the story?

Hanging on our front door is a blue bag from the Boys Scouts.  Did you receive one?  Filling the bag is a small way we can look after those whom we might not notice during the week.  For as Mary sang, “He has come to help his servant and remember His mercy.”  That includes us. We too have received mercy, even as we are called to show mercy.

Simple Realities

I stole this from former synod president Jerry Kieschnick

Eight Simple Profound Realities
1. Everyone in a village decided to pray for rain. On the day of prayer all the people gathered, but only one boy came with an umbrella.
That’s FAITH.

2. When you throw babies in the air, they laugh because they know you will catch them.
That’s TRUST.

3. Every night we go to bed without any assurance of being alive the next morning, but still we set our alarm to wake up.
That’s HOPE.

4. We plan big things for tomorrow in spite of zero knowledge of the future.

5. We see the world suffering, but still we get married and have children.
That’s LOVE.
6. On an old man’s shirt was written the sentence: “I am not 80 years old; I am sweet 16 with 64 years of experience.”

7. When an election takes place in any organization, secular or ecclesiastical, there are winners and there are losers. The winners have difficulty representing those who voted for the losers, which makes it difficult for the organization to thrive. Yet in most cases it survives.

8. Jesus loves me, this I know! For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong; they are weak but he is strong.

Who are Those dressed in the White Robes?

This morning many of us heard from Rev. 7:9-17. Numbers beyond counting hope in the Lamb (Christ) having made their robes white in his blood. Among that great multitude are people, “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and and languages.” John also wrote in his first letter, “that when he appears we shall be like him.”
As those words were read in worship, I thought of the vitriol, insults, lies and fears hurled in this present political campaign. At times we who are among blessed in Christ, find ourselves drawn into the fray with strong emotions lumping those with whom we disagree into a heap of ______. We do well to remember that many of those who dressed in white robes will be of a multitude of colors, languages, nations and peoples. Since we will be living in eternity with one another, we do well to make every effort to practice our life together in the here and now.

All Saints Day


Who are the saints?  1 John 3:1-3 tells us that the saints are those whom the Father has called his children and live in the hope of seeing Christ on the last day and becoming like him. Jesus identified what kind of people are saints and their way of life when he taught his disciples in Matthew 5.

The saints are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the gentle and humble, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness in their actions, are merciful, have hearts that are pure, make peace, are persecuted, insulted, and lied about.  Saints are followers of Jesus, who died and rose again, that his disciples could be blessed.  Saints are the salt of the earth, the light of the world, who light the world around them.

Saints are those to whom Christ will welcome into his Father’s Kingdom as the blessed ones.  But they will be completely surprised when Jesus tells them they have been visiting him, giving him something to eat, welcoming him, providing him clothes all along.  They will ask, “Who? Us?  When did we do that stuff, for you?”  Jesus will say, when you visited the poor, fed the hungry, healed the gentle and humble, did righteous deeds, helped without being duplicitous, backed the peacemakers, and those who were insulted, abused and bullied, and stood up for the persecuted.