Saturday, October 29, 2016

Reformation 500

Tomorrow we Lutherans around the globe celebrate Reformation Sunday, which always falls on the last Sunday in October. Then, on October 31, which is our Lutheran official Reformation Day, there will be a special commemoration ecumenical worship service in Lund, Sweden to kick off the year long celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. For the first time in Lutheran history, a Roman Catholic pope, Francis will also be celebrating the event with us Lutherans. This certainly is a significant gesture on the pope's part towards unity within Christendom. 
   However, as the cartoon suggests, we Lutherans still have significant doctrinal and ecclesiological issues to settle with the Roman Catholic Church before we can reach enough consensus to have full communion with them. We have moved in that direction with other denominations, especially in North America. Here in Canada, for example, we have full communion with the Anglicans. In the United States however, the altar and pulpit fellowship extends also to several other denominations within the Reformed family of churches. 
   One sign of hope for future relations and dialogues with the Roman Catholics is a couple of statements Francis has made regarding Martin Luther, whom he called an intelligent man, and a comment about a Lutheran woman being able to commune in a Roman Catholic church with her husband who is R.C., that if she believed she could commune with a clear conscience, she may be able to do so. 
   Whether or not we Lutherans and Roman Catholics will be able to resolve our differences regarding papal authority, the doctrine of ordained ministry-including women clergy and married clergy, Mariology and the definition and criteria of sainthood, and the number and nature of the sacraments remains to be seen. 
   Jesus' high priestly prayer in John 17 is thus an ongoing one for us Lutherans and Roman Catholics.    

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bob Dylan wins 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature

Congratulations Bob! I've been a fan for a lot of years.

Half a century ago, Bob Dylan shocked the music world by plugging in an electric guitar and alienating folk purists. For decades he continued to confound expectations, selling millions of records with dense, enigmatic songwriting.
   To read the whole New York Times article, click here

Monday, October 10, 2016

Canadian Thanksgiving Monday 2016

Today—the second Monday in October—we Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving. Scripture underscores the importance of gratitude to God for the gift of physical and spiritual life, as well as everything in creation that sustains life, and everyone who contributes to the well-being of humankind and all of creation.
   As an exercise in Thanksgiving, I’ve found it helpful to list at least one person, place or thing for each letter of the alphabet to give thanks to God for. It is also an exercise in which friends, neighbours, strangers and family can participate as they gather around the table for a Thanksgiving meal.
   All praise and thanks to you LORD God, Creator, Father, Mother, Redeemer, Son, Saviour, Messiah, Friend, Brother, Sustainer, Holy Spirit, Breath of Life, Teacher, Giver of Fruit and Gifts. Today I realize that there are so many people, places and things I am thankful for.
   I thank you for art,
   I thank you for the Bible,
   I thank you for this country, Canada,
   I thank you for the diversity of all creation, including humankind,
   I thank you for ears to hear with and eyes to see,
   I thank you for faith to trust in you and your forgiveness for all of my sins,
   I thank you for your grace, which names and claims me as a member of your family,
   I thank you for the gift of reasonably good health, and your promise of life with you in heaven,
   I thank you for ideas that make a difference in my life, my province, nation, and the whole world,
   I thank you Jesus for your life in this world, your teachings and miracles, your love for me and all of humankind, demonstrated by your suffering and death, resurrection and ascension,
   I thank you for the gift of kindness shown to me each day in many and various ways,
   I thank you for the greatest gift of all, love, given to me and all of humankind,
   I thank you for music, another beautiful gift that adds so much to the quality of life,
   I thank you for novels, revealing insights into life,
   I thank you for olive oil and oranges,
   I thank you for prophets, who are called by you to speak truth to power, and are your agents to facilitate justice,
   I thank you for quiet times and places for relaxation and renewal,
   I thank you for the gift of reconciliation for humankind, for family, friends, neighbours and enemies,
   I thank you for the promised gift of salvation, which you have willed for all people,
   I thank you for your truth, which sets us free to love and serve you and our neighbour,
   I thank you for the gift of unity in marriages, families, congregations and parishes, within and between denominations, governments, and nations,
   I thank you for vocations, to give human beings meaning and purpose in their callings and work,
   I thank you for the opportunity and privilege to come before you to worship you, to bring all of our self—body, mind, and spirit—with us in awe, reverence and wonder and be judged, forgiven, instructed and inspired, equipped and sent to love and serve you and our neighbour,
   I thank you for xylophones, making beautiful music,
   I thank you for the colour yellow, bringing more light into the world,
   I thank you for zippers, that close winter parkas on cold winter days.
   All praise and thanks to you O Triune God, now and forever. Amen.