This weekend I went down to Saint Louis for the Congress on the Lutheran Confessions. I decided to leave early for various reasons. Yesterday afternoon I decided to go to the seminary at St. Louis and hang out for a little while. I ate at the dining hall (good food by the way) and observed the students for a little while. Then, I went over to Loeber hall and picked up the student publication, “Around the Tower” and began reading. Here were some of the headlines:
STUDENT ASSOCIATION DRAFTS NEW CAMPUS ALCOHOL POLICY
Parts of this policy are borrowed from Concordia Theological Seminary. But listen to this: III. Guidelines for Alcohol Consumption. 3. Drink no more than one alcoholic beverage at any occasion. 4. Usually drink something non-alcoholic. 5. Take special care deciding whether or not to drink alcohol at any occasion where children and/or other under-age persons are present. 6. Students are encouraged to utitlize the Seminary Counseling Center as a proactive resource avaiable to help identify solutions to problems before issues reach the point that the vice-president of student life need address them.
SEMINARIANS NOT EXEMPT FROM TITHING
The gist of the story is that just as people in the secular world are often expected to have their “financial house” in order before getting a job as a financial advisor, so also pastors-in-training should make sure that we are practicing what we are going to preach. Personally, I don’t preach about tithing. And I’m not going to tell anyone whether or not I tithe.
The last paragraph is this: “We should be tithing now because it is the right thing to do. We should be trusting in the promises of God now, because it is the right thing to do. We should be asking ourselves this question, and answering with a resounding , ‘YES’!” Nice principles, but ALL LAW.
Chad Bird had a great sermon about tithing once, only, it wasn’t about tithing, it was about Christ. It was an Ascension Day sermon where he used the idea of the OT tithe (1/10) to explain how Christ is the representative of humanity in heaven. The tithe was a representative of the whole amount, given to God. I’m not doing justice to the sermon, but hopefully you get the point.
VICAR SERVES JOINT LCMS-ELCA PARISH
This article is about a vicarage experience at Lutheran Church of Arcata, CA, which once was a mix of LC-MS and ALC members, and a campus ministry. When the ALC became part of the ELCA, this congregation was allowed to remain a joint congregation. The writer says: “No more churches like this will be formed between the two synods, but the few S’s of ministry: study, social, service and spread. Study: we have to find ways of proclaiming God’s Word, including Bible Study and Worship. Social: we have to (emphasis mine, by the way) give people a chance to have fun and get to know each other; over dinner, over basketball, over a cup of coffee at a local shop, even (GASP!) over a beer, without hurting consciences (of course!). Service: we have to actively serve our community, volunteering at shelters, cooking meals, building houses and doing what must get done. And spread: we have to reach people who would rather die than ever enter a church building.” (comments in parentheses mine).
Another pertinent paragraph: “In the absence of a pastor (?!!!), I have been given an opportunity to reach out to the congregation in a unique way that, honestly, does not have to be so unique after all. We have to think outside the box more than we do as LCMS Lutherans. I mean, honestly, do we really need one more evening prayer service? For the record, I myself go to the Evening Prayer and Compline every week at the seminary. Instead, why don’t we send more people to St. Louis University and Washington University to reach people as ______ , _______, and others have done?” (Instead of prayer?)
Another pertinent paragraph: “What have I done about ministering to the people of the LCMS, ELCA and other groups? Though some people may find it distasteful, the Lutheran Confessions do not ban people of different backgrounds from sharing a common table (are we still talking here about eating dinner together?) Instead, we take each person and teach them the Real Presence of Communion, and we share it within our church family. As an LCMS vicar (!), I teach them the truths that we have been taught at the semrinary, so I never have to compromise the Confessions or the truth of grace alone (except when you celebrate the Lord’s Supper without a Call, but let’s not be legalistic). And I allow the people to decide if they wish to transfer their membership, loving them no matter what.” (So, we have a vicar, celebrating the Lord’s Supper apparently, at a joint LCMS-ELCA parish. Lovely).
The article ends: “So while it has been hard not being able to assume where church members come from, it has begun to teach me how the LCMS can reach out to non-LCMS members (maybe it would be good to question unfamiliar people before admitting them to the altar). We can learn things from people different from us. We have true doctrine, but we still have a lot to learn (Yeah, like Article XIV of the Augsburg Confession). If we would spend our time talking with other Christians, and I mean talking not ecumenically but person-to-person, we might learn other ways of wording doctrine without going back to Pieper. God bless, and I wish y’all vibrant ministries that keep y’all too busy to watch too much television.” (Yeah, keep the fire Ablaze).
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF DAILY CHAPEL?
Apparently in a recent article the idea was brought up to close Loeber hall (where the fussball tables are) during chapel because of the people who go and play games and don’t go to chapel. (We used to talk about having a procession to the student center at Fort Wayne on Communion days to take communion to the “shut-ins” at the fussball tables–similar problems I suppose).
Anyway, the article in this issue is written by a non-Lutheran graduate student, questioning why an LCMS seminary would be so legalistic as to require chapel services five days a week. Personally, I think that daily chapel should be required of seminary students. Things are required of pastors that are not of lay people. It is part of the pastor’s spiritual formation. And it would help if the chapels were not just glorified devotions, but that they used the various prayer offices from our hymnals. That was one thing I always appreciated about Fort Wayne (even though I skipped my share of chapel services): they utilized the broad array of services within our hymnals. It laid the foundation for my daily prayer now as a parish pastor. If it had not been modeled at the seminary, I probably would not have learned to do it.
MOSQUE VISIT OFFERS INSIGHT FOR EVANGELISM: Muslims have some things to teach us about sharing our faith
In this article, the author speaks about a trip to a mosque that he and other seminary students took. It’s not a bad article, just discusses some of the common problems that Muslims and Christians face. The point of it, however, was lost on me. It describes the prayer service that was attended by the seminary students, how the Imam taught the children afterward. He talks about how the Imam offers services on Sundays and other Christian holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas and uses them as an opportunity to explain more about Islam. And then the author writes: “Maybe Christians should borrow from the Muslims and take time to worship Christ and teach on Muslim holidays like the month of Ramadan, and learn more of what we have in common with other parts of their culture. (paragraph) Ritual, liturgy, orderliness and reverence are what make sense to these Muslims escaping for a moment from what is otherwise the chaotic culture of America[…].”
Perhaps we could learn something from Muslims…about reverence, orderliness, ritual, and liturgy when it comes to worship, since so many of our churches lack any form of these. Not that we would borrow from them, but that we would strive to live by such Biblical and God-pleasing principles when it comes to our own true and spiritual worship of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Muslims are unashamed about their religion and do not try to accommodate the tastes of worshipers. Why do we?
It was an interesting trip, to say the least. I even got to play some tennis out on the seminary courts. That would have been a great addition to the Fort Wayne sem while I was there–tennis courts. Perhaps I would have gotten a lot more exercise then.