Beware the Vultures! A Sermon on Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

Co-missioners,

Were someone to ask for a definition of Crossings in five words or fewer, we might put it like this. “We push Christ.” And for clarity’s sake, we might take that one word further: “We push Christ Crucified.” There are many reasons for doing this. Today’s offering uses pew-level English to underscore one of them. It also takes a swipe at the plague of Christ-less God-chatter that afflicts churches these days. If what we’re hearing from you is any indication, many more such swipes are needed.

Getting to Step Six (A Lenten Devotion)

Co-missioners,

Over the past two weeks you caught Ed Schroeder grinding his teeth about “the peace-and-justice mantra,” as he called it. Today we send a related piece in a different genre—so different that we’re obliged here to point out the connection to Ed’s work. For that we call on your familiarity with the six-step Crossings matrix. If you’re foggy on that, we urge you to consult our website.

The ‘Peace-and-Justice’ Mantra. (An Ed Schroeder Rerun, Part 2)

Co-missioners,

“Dust you are; to dust you shall return.” God saw fit to remind us of this in yesterday’s Ash Wednesday liturgy. As you read today’s continuation of last week’s post, you’ll notice how this word—grim, implacable—looms heavily in Ed Schroeder’s unhappiness with current church-based thinking about peace and justice.

The ‘Peace-and-Justice’ Mantra. (An Ed Schroeder Rerun, Part 1)

Co-missioners,

Lent is less than a week away. With that in mind we send you some homework for a Lenten assignment. It’s a rerun in two parts—half this week, half next—of an eighteen year old essay by Ed Schroeder that invites some repentance, as in “rethinking,” a “re-forming of the mind.” Metanoia in Greek. As when God “repented of the evil” that he had thought to unleash on his people as they danced around the golden calf (Ex. 32:14, KJV, RSV; cf. Jonah 3:10, same versions).

How Can We Love?

Co-missioners,

Three Sundays ago Pastor Chris Repp preached on 1 Corinthians 13 at Grace Lutheran, the congregation he serves in Champaign, Illinois. He shared his sermon with us a few days later. We couldn’t help but share it with you. Here is the antidote to every harangue you’ve ever gotten on the topic of love that left you hanging your head for not loving enough.

Merciful Accompaniment

Co-missioners,

Our guest writer today is the Rev. Kirsten Worzala Dumke. A 2012 graduate of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Kirsten is a Board Certified Chaplain on the Palliative Care Team of the University of Wisconsin Hospital’s Carbone Cancer Center. She also serves as the pastor of Parroquia Santa Maria, a Spanish-speaking parish associated with Luther Memorial Church in Madison, Wisconsin.

Kirsten wrestles in this essay with two problems. The first is the way that deadly disease can alienate people from the God we need. The second is the challenge of ministering to an alienated person in a setting that proscribes a full-throated witness to the promise of Christ’s death and resurrection. Here she’ll push us to bank for their sake on the boundless mercy of God.

Law, Gospel, and the Purple Church

Co-missioners,

We hear from Paul Theiss this week on a topic as timely as timely gets. It begs for a lot of discussion—much more than it’s getting, as Paul points out. If you have reason to launch the conversation in your churchly setting, we recommend Paul’s essay as a solid starting point.

A Way to Pray the Lord’s Prayer

Co-missioners,

Today we send you a coda to Marcus Felde’s marvelous essay on reading the Lord’s Prayer through the lenses of Law and Gospel. We got this from Matt Metevelis who quite by coincidence posted it on his personal Facebook page the day after we sent you the first part of Marcus’s essay. It seemed to us that it captured, in a very down-to-earth pastoral form, the very thing that Marcus was driving at. Marcus agreed when we ran it by him. We commend it to you for your own down-to-earth praying this week.

A reminder that God delivers Matt a good chunk of his daily bread via his service as a hospice chaplain in Las Vegas.

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