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

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