The team from St Stephen has arrived in Columbus. In a little while we will head over to Upper Arlington Lutheran Church to check-in for the 2012 NALC Congregational Renewal Conference.
I am very excited for the rest of the team to meet and hear from NALC Bishop John Bradosky. His energy, his authenticity, and his zeal for spreading the Gospel are absolutely infectious.
I am also looking forward to meeting the four-member evangelism team visiting North America from the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus. The conference will have a strong Ethiopian flavor.
Last week during the Saturday night service, I preached on Elijah and the widow from Zarephath (1 Kings 17) which happens to be our Sunday morning text from the Old Testament this coming week. I mentioned that it would have been a surprise for Elijah to be provided and cared for by a widow. Without a social 'safety-net,' widows were at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder in the ancient world. I drew a connection to the surprise we may feel when we 'rich' North Americans are being taught by 'poor' Ethiopians. It is surprising when God upsets our view of who is the 'gifted' and who is the 'needy.' Of course, it is true that in the end all of us need each other. We all have gifts which we may share and we all are in need of what God has given to others.
The top number that could be accommodated at the conference is 175. I don't know whether they've hit that number, but I do know that one of the hotels that was recommended had no room as of yesterday.
Please pray for us, that this might be a time of renewal in faith, hope, and love.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Friday, November 2, 2012
The North American Lutheran Church is assisting in the response to
Hurricane Sandy which hit the eastern United States this week.
Volunteer Reception Centers are opening on the East Coast. Most
urgent needs for volunteers are for debris removal and distribution of
food, water, blankets.
In West Virginia, roofs of homes are collapsing under the weight of 4
feet of snow. Volunteers are needed to help shovel snow off of the roofs
Three counties in Ohio are impacted by Hurricane Sandy. More than
125,000 households are still without power and one Red Cross shelter
is open, providing housing and meals to families.
A 48-foot semi trailer is being loaded in Ohio with blankets, nonperishable food,
water, hygiene kits, school supplies, cleaning supplies and flood buckets.
The most requested items are gift cards from discount stores such as Walmart or Target.
The truck will be sent to the Church World Service warehouse in New York City
which is coordinating distribution in the area. Donations to fill the truck may be
brought or sent to Mary Woodward at the Disaster Warehouse, 810 Main Street,
Caldwell, OH 43724 for the next 30 days.
Monetary gifts to support disaster relief efforts may be given online
at www.thenalc.org or sent to NALC Disaster Response, 2299
Palmer Drive, Suite 220; New Brighton, MN 55112-2202.
Volunteers may contact Disaster Coordinator Mary Woodward directly
at 740-509-1132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
"We must come to a sense of the continuing presence of our loved ones, and we can do this if we realize the presence of our living Lord. As we seek and find our Risen Lord we shall find our dear departed. They are with Him, and we find the reality of their continued life through Him. The saints are a part of the Church. We worship with them. They worship the Risen Christ face to face, while we worship the same Risen Christ under the veil of bread and wine at the Altar. At the Communion we are linked with Heaven, with the Communion of Saints, with our loved ones. Here at the Altar, focused to a point, we find our communion with the dead who are in His keeping. The Altar is the trysting place where we meet our beloved Lord. It must, therefore, also be the trysting place where we meet our loved ones, for they are with the Lord...
"...Do learn to love the Altar as the meeting place with your beloved who have passed within the veil. Here again the Sacrament is the heart of our religion. The Blessed Sacrament links us not only to Bethlehem and Calvary, but to the whole world beyond the grave as well, for at the Altar the infinite is shrined in the finite; Heaven stoops down to earth; and the seen and the unseen meet."
-Berthold Von Schenk, The Presence