The Lord’s Prayer Part 2

Co-missioners,

Last week was Part 1, a preamble of sorts. This week Marcus Felde rolls up his sleeves and gets to work on the task he set for himself in last week’s final paragraph—

“Condensing the [Lord’s Prayer] into two ‘super-petitions’—first, ‘Be God to us!’ and then, ‘Be good to us!’—has helped me understand the strength of the prayer. Jesus tells us ‘Ask, and you will receive.’ And what does he tell us to pray for? Everything. On one hand, that our Father in heaven would totally be our God. And that he would totally preserve us from all our trouble. I hope to demonstrate that by distinguishing between law and Gospel we can see how that is more than a wistful, utopian dream.”

Watch and rejoice as Marcus does precisely what he hoped to.

Peace and Joy,

The Crossings Community

The Lord’s Prayer

Co-missioners,

Our colleague, Marcus Felde, has emerged in recent years as a specialist in the theology of the Lord’s Prayer. He delivered a paper on the topic at the Crossings Conference of 2008. Seven years later he published an article in Word and World entitled “The Lord’s Prayer: Who Could Ask for Anything More?”

And then there’s the item we send you today. It’s Part One—Part Two to follow next week—of a lecture Marcus delivered this past October at Saint Augustine’s House, the Lutheran monastery in Oxford, Michigan. We can think of no better gift for a second Thursday in January when the fizz of New Year’s Eve is yesterday’s wistful joke and we’re back to coping with the nitty gritty of the world as it is, the one within and for which our Lord teaches us to pray.

Read well. When done, pray gladly. How could you not?

Peace and Joy,

The Crossings Community

Through Perils Unknown: Thoughts of a Seasoned Pastor in a New Call

Co-missioners,

Lori Cornell, longtime editor of our Crossings text studies, reflects today on her opening months of service as Lead Pastor of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Spokane, Washington. She took a call there last summer. We thank her for the abundance of insight, both theological and pastoral, that she shares with us here.

Peace and Joy,
The Crossings Community

The Terrifying Promise of Love (A Response to Chris Neumann)

Co-missioners,

We launched the recent Advent season with a startling reflection by Chris Neumann on everlasting life, a bedrock Christian promise that most all of us look forward to with delight. Chris found it terrifying. This brought a response from Bruce Martin, a longtime member of our Crossings Community and the author of many of our text studies. We have shared it with Chris. At Bruce’s request (see below) we share it with you too, inviting further responses whether to Bruce or to Chris. Conversation is good. It’s how we learn, and all the more when the motive driving the conversation is the love we have for each other in our Lord Jesus Christ.

One caveat: early on you’ll find Bruce asking Chris what “the ultimate promise” is. We should mention that this phrase came not from Chris but from the editor who assigned a title to his essay.

Peace and Joy,
The Crossings Community

Who Will Save the Neighborhood?

Co-missioners,

On this final Thursday in the current Advent season, we send you a challenging reflection by Karen Clapp, a member of Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest, Illinois. It’s a sequel of sorts to a presentation she made at the Crossings conference in 2020. Those remarks are available on our website in both written and audio versions. They bear reviewing as a backdrop to what she writes today.

May we take it for granted that you’ll hold Karen, her family, and all her current neighbors in your prayers this Christmas?

Peace and Joy,
The Crossings Community

“The Jesus Vaccine.” A Year-Old Christmas Sermon

Co-missioners,

Last year’s Christmas was the bleakest any of us have lived through. The pandemic was raging. Vaccines were not yet. Seniors stayed home. Their dear ones kept a distance for fear of making Grandma sick. A lot of churches were closed on Christmas Eve. Those that dared to be open kept attendees thinly spaced. The music was muted. So was the mood.

Even so, along came preachers with good news to tell. Those who knew their business did their best to direct it toward the miseries of the moment.

Today we send you an example of how this happened at a church in Greater Cleveland. There might be a thought or two here that others would find pertinent for this Christmas too. Circumstances are certainly different than they were last year, but the pandemic hasn’t quit. Neither has the plague of sin and dismay that grips us all.

Christ’s Two Advents

Co-missioners,

Today’s post is both late and timely. Late, because it discusses a text we heard in church two weeks ago on this year’s First Sunday of Advent. Timely, because the issues God pushed us to face that day are issues we deal with every day. “How are we judged?” “Who does the judging?” 

Our thanks to Steve Kuhl for unraveling a text that preachers shrink from and hearers would rather avoid. Turns out there’s Gospel lurking in these words. Marvelous Gospel.

When the Ultimate Promise is Terrifying

Co-missioners,

Kudos to writer Chris Neumann for today’s one-of-a-kind post. We urge it on you for three reasons.

First, Chris raises an issue that has never surfaced in Crossings. We know of no prior writer who has addressed it. That includes Bob Bertram and Ed Schroeder. We doubt that it has ever crossed your own minds as an issue that needs addressing.

Facing the Sin of Racism

Co-missioners,

There is an endless list of gifts to thank God for this Thanksgiving. Among them is the simple fact that more Americans than usual will take a break from the crabbiness of the times to express some thanks of one kind of another. Not that all of these thanks will be directed to God. We can imagine even so that he’ll take them as a compliment. Such is his generosity, to say nothing of his patience. Thanks be to God for that!

“What If?” as a Tool for Law/Gospel Discernment

Co-missioners,

Today’s guest writer is the Rev. Dr. George C. Heider, a Senior Research Professor of Theology at Valparaiso University. Dr. Heider is a product of the system that trained many of us who connect with Crossings these days. He graduated from Concordia College, Bronxville, from Concordia Senior College, Fort Wayne, and finally, in 1979, from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. From there he went to Yale University to earn a doctorate in Old Testament. In the course of his career he served for a time as president of Concordia University, River Forest, Illinois. He began teaching at Valparaiso in 2004, retiring as a full professor in 2019. He chaired Valpo’s theology department from 2010 to 2017. He is presently on the pastoral roster of the Evangelical Lutheran in America.