Saturday, October 21, 2017


The Washing of Feet, by Ghislane Howard

One of my favorite hymns is The Spirit Sends Us Forth to Serve.  The words were written by Delores Dufner, OSB. It is hymn number 551 in Evangelical Lutheran Worship.  Here are the four verses for your consideration:

The spirit sends us forth to serve; 
we go in Jesus' name 
to bring glad tidings to the poor, 
God's favor to proclaim.

We go to comfort those who mourn 
and set the burdened free: 
where hope is dim, to share a dream 
and help the blind to see.

We go to be the hands of Christ, 
to scatter joy like seed 
and all our days, to cherish life, 
to do the loving deed.

Then let us go to serve in peace, 
the Gospel to proclaim. 
God's Spirit has empowered us; 
we go in Jesus' name. 

I'm going to risk sharing the following observation: The word Service has come to mean and refer to so many things and actions that it no longer means much of anything. We pay it lip service (see, there it is again) to such an extent that it's ability to communicate is rendered impotent; at least, that is, when it is stripped of context.

Take a look at the following images regarding service. It each case the term is used accurately in its context. Yet, there are various implications.

So, when we explore the nature of service from our perspective as Lutheran Christians in Franklin County, we will add to this word's resume. 

Grounded in a solid discipline of Listening, and nurtured and refined in Discernment, we are called to engage in a level of Service. We are sent to serve as authentic persons who have experienced the Love of God in Christ Jesus and who now can't help but incarnate this Word in the life and world around us. This is the ideal response and action.

Take a few moments to consider your own call to service. How have you used the word to describe the actions in your life? More than mere busyness, service is something we steward. And like most stewardship, ours can be faithful or not.

Who are we sent to serve?  

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Friday, October 13, 2017


I came upon the following thought about discernment somewhere (I can't remember where, so I can't provide proper attribution). Maybe the church is implicated in this example of misuse. What do you think?
Several times we have actually used the word "discernment" to describe what we were doing. Though I suspect that we thought of it more in terms of planning and preparing. Discovering and doing the will of God is different from measuring and implementing our own. 
Figuring out what God wants you to do (and become) can be frustrating. Rarely is the process quickly accomplished. Sometimes I think of it as a period of gestation that seems to never come to fruition. Despite many idiosyncrasies, we are faithful when we strive forward. 

In 1 Corinthians 12:10, St. Paul shares the following: to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. Here, the ability to distinguish (discernment) is considered a gift of the Spirit. Sometimes we may think of the need to choose between two options, one good the other bad, one left the other right. Such dualistic thinking is convenient if not clear and simple. Yet, most of the time it is simply not that clear and simple. If it were, there would be little need for distinguishing and discernment.

At various points throughout life, the implications of our decisions change. Consider some of the first major decisions you made in your life. Were there other options at the time? What were they? Did you choose wisely? Do you regret any decisions you have made? If you do, can you remember what led to the decisions you made? Did you take time for discernment or was your decision more impulsive?

Considering the need to engage in ongoing reformation and renewal, having the willingness to accept God's will for your life is before us. This Sunday we will explore some of the questions raised above and some, perhaps, that we haven't yet considered. Your experience and participation is crucial for the vitality of our time together. Consider sharing a moment in your life that you have engaged in discernment.

19th Sunday after Pentecost
October 15, 2017

Prayer of the Day
Lord of the feast, 
you have prepared a table before all peoples 
and poured out your life with abundance. 
Call us again to your banquet. 
Strengthen us by what is honorable, just, and pure, 
and transform us into a people of righteousness and peace, 
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Readings and Psalm

Isaiah 25:1-9 
The feast of victory

Psalm 23 
You prepare a table before me, and my cup is running over. (Ps. 23:5)

Philippians 4:1-9
Rejoice in the Lord always

Matthew 22:1-14 
The parable of the unwelcome guest at the wedding feast

Friday, October 6, 2017


At times it has been a steep learning curve. Learning to listen more and speak less has been a discipline that I have had to intentionally practice. However, it is becoming easier the more I practice it. Never will perfection be reached. I will have to be content with progress.

Communication is often considered to be concerned only with "getting the word out" by whatever means necessary. It's more of a two-way street, isn't it? Communication's less obvious component is listening. When you look at someone listening, the perception is that they aren't doing anything. And we all know how much value is placed on not doing in our culture of perpetual motion and persistent noise. 

Here are some definitions of listening (listen) for our consideration. The first is from Webster's Dictionary. The second is from an article I read somewhere (can't remember where). And the third is a definition of the Greek word frequently translated as Listen. 

Definitions of Listen

listened; listening \ˈlis-niŋ, ˈli-sᵊn-iŋ\
archaic :to give ear to: hear
1:to pay attention to sound 
listen to music
2:to hear something with thoughtful attention :give consideration 
listen to a plea
3:to be alert to catch an expected sound 
listen for his step

Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process. Listening is key to all effective communication. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages are easily misunderstood.
ἀκούω (akouō) to attend to, to comprehend, to understand

This third example, from the Greek, is beautifully and pointedly evident in the following passage from the gospel of Matthew:
Then Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!" (Mathew 17:4-5)
Reformation of our interior and individual life is predicated by our capacity and willingness to practice listening for God. Our relationship with the Father, through the Son, is dependent on the mutuality and divine dance of love, mercy, and grace, that looks to listening as life support.
  • As we anticipate our time together on Sunday morning, take some time to reflect on a few questions: In the past week have you intentionally spent time listening?
  • To what or to whom do you listen?
  • Do you listen only to what tickles your ears?
  • Do you thirst for satisfaction?
  • Would you be content with not getting in the last word, but rather receiving the Word?

18th Sunday after Pentecost
October 8, 2017

The Prayer of the Day
Beloved God, from you come all things that are good. 
Lead us by the inspiration of your Spirit to know those things that are right, 
and by your merciful guidance, help us to do them, 
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Lectionary Readings
Isaiah 5:1-17
Psalm 80:7-15
Philippians 3:4b-14
Matthew 21:33-46