Friday, September 28, 2012

Bible Reading initiative: Live light 25 words a day

The Australian Bible Society is encouraging everyone to get involved in reading small sections of scripture everyday and then thinking about what this small section of scripture means for us and the other people we mingle with.....

Go to to discover resources that help you encourage your congregation and friends to dive deep into God's Word

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lutheran Liturgy - it's biblical roots

The Lutheran Liturgy -- Its Biblical Roots
An Outline of the Order of Holy Communion*
* the following presentation corresponds to the order of Divine Service II from the Hymal Lutheran Worship, pp. 158ff.

The service of preparation

The Prelude
Music helps draw us into an attitude of prayer and praise.

The Ringing of the Bells
This is a call to Gods people "to enter the lord's gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise" (Psalm 100:4).

A Hymn of  Invocation
We are a "singing church," so we follow the advice of the apostle Paul to teach and admonish "one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing  with grace in your hearts to the lord" (Colossians 3:16).  This hymn may be one of praise, prayer, or reflection on the season of the church year.

The Invocation
We call upon God to be present with us. We worship the triune God, remembering our Baptism in His name*.  Amen means "So be it, it is true!"
* Matt. 28:19;  Matt. 18:20;  Eph. 2:18.

The Confession of Sins
We examine ourselves and publicly confess our sins. Such a confession at the beginning of the service provides a climate of acceptance. In spite of our sins, we are accepted by God, and in turn we can accept each other.
* I John 1:8-10 [Rom. 7:14-8:4].

The Absolution or Declaration of Grace
Christ said to his disciples, "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven"*.  The pastor speaks for God and announces God's cleansing  forgiveness to those who made confession.
* John 20:23.

The Service of the Word
From the time of the apostles down through today, an important part of the service has been the reading of the Scriptures, including the Old Testament Lesson, the Epistle Lesson from the New Testament,  and the Gospel Lesson.  The reason for including these readings is the scriptural principal that God's Word is the only rule and guide for Christian faith and living.  The Service of the Word concludes with the sermon (wich is the preached word), the church's confession of faith in response to God's Word, and the prayers of God's people.

The Introit of the Day
Introit is a Latin word meaning "he enters into."  The Introit is a part of a psalm or a hymn that announces the theme of the day and begins the Service of the Word.  Many years ago the faithful would meet outside and then proceed into the church.  The pastor and the people would chant psalms as they entered the sanctuary.
The Introit traditionally consists of an Antiphon, or refrain, a Psalm or a series of Psalm verses, the Gloria Patri*, and the Antiphon repeated.
* Rom. 16:27;  Eph. 3:21;  Phil. 4:20;  Rev. 1:6, 8.

The Kyrie
Kyrie is a Greek word meaning "O Lord." It is a cry to the Lord for help and strength*.  In ancient times, the crowds would shout "Lord, have mercy" as the King entered their town.  The church has taken over his prayer to greet its King Jesus Christ in the church service.  As the people so long ago expected help from their King, so we Christians expect help from our Savior.
* Matt. 9:27;  Matt. 15:22;  Matt. 20:30-31;  Luke 17:13.

The Hymn of Praise
Two hymns of praise, "Glory to God in the highest" and "This is the feast of victory," give the congregation the opportunity to praise God and express joy because Jesus is our victorious Savior.  During Advent and Lent, the hymn of praise is omitted.
* "Glory to God in the highest," Luke 2:14;  "This is the feast of victory," Rev. 5:12f.

The Salutation
In the Salutation, the pastor and the congregation great each other in the Lord's name.
* Ruth 2:4;  Luke 1:28;  II Thess. 3:16;  II Tim. 4:22.

The Collect of the Day
The main thoughts of the day are collected, or summarized in this short prayer.  The collects for the reason of the church year have come to us from the rich treasury of the church's heritage.

The First Lesson
The first reading is from the Old Testament, except during the Easter season when it is from the Book of Acts.  This reading usually relates to the Gospel of the day.
* I Tim. 4:13.

The Gradual
Gradual, a Latin expression meaning "step," is a scripture passage for each season of the church year.  It is a response to the First Lesson and a bridge to the Second Lesson.  Sometimes a psalm is sung or spoken.

The Second Lesson
The second reading is from one of the epistles (letters) in the New Testament.

The Verse
A verse from the holy scriptures is usually sung in preparation for the reading of the Gospel.  There are general verses* as well as specific verses for the seasons of the church year.
* John 6:68; Joel 2:13 (through lent).

The Holy Gospel
The Gospel Lesson is a selection from the accounts of the life of our Lord recorded by the four evangelists, St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John.  Because Christ is with us in the Gospel reading, we stand to honor his presence.  We also sing versicles (short verses) before and after the reading of the Gospel.  On certain festival days the minister may read the Gospel while standing among the people.  He may be flanked by acolytes carrying candles who proclaim Jesus and his word as the "light of the world."

The Hymn of the Day
This hymn follows the theme of the readings and set the stage for the sermon. Suggested hymns of the day are listed on page 976-78 of Lutheran Worship.

The Sermon
The Pastor proclaims God's Word and applies that word to modern life and problems.  He stresses both what God demands of us (the Law) and what God does for us through Jesus Christ (the Gospel).

The Creed
After hearing the word of God read and proclaimed, the worshiper responds with his confession of faith in the words of the Nicene Creed.  It is customary for the Nicene Creed to be spoken when Holy Communion is celebrated and on major festivals.  The Apostles' Creed is used at other times.
* I Cor. 15:1ff;  I Pet. 3:18ff;  I Tim. 3:16.

The Prayers 
This prayer in the service follows the directive of the Apostle Paul to young Timothy, a pastor: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for Kings and all those in authority, that we may live in peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness"*.  For this reason, the hymnal says "prayers are included for the whole church, the nations, those in need, the parish, and special concerns.  The congregation may be invited to offer petitions and thanksgivings.  The minister gives thanks for the faithful departed, especially for those who have died" (LW pages 168-69).
* I Tim. 2:1-2.

The Service of the Sacrament
The church has confessed its sins and been forgiven, and its faith has been nurtured through hearing the Word.  The church now reaches a climax  of the worship experience in the celebration of the sacrament of Holy Communion.  The following parts of the liturgy help the worshipers partake of the holy meal thoughtfully, thankfully, and joyfully.

The Offering
The gifts of God's people are a response to God's blessings "as God has prospered them" (1 Corinthians 16:2).  Our offerings are for the support of the church.  They enable the church to provide the written and spoken word of God, Christian education, and pastoral care, food, clothing, shelter, and a helping hand to those in need.

The Offertory
As the offerings are brought to the Lord's table, the worshipers sing the offertory* to express gratitude for all God's blessings, dedicate themselves to God, and request His continued blessings.
* "What shall I render to the Lord," Ps. 116:12, 17, 13-14, 19;  "Create in me a clean heart", Ps. 51:10-12.

The Preface
Preface means "introduction."  The pastor and people get ready to celebrate the Holy Meal by greeting each other and with an exhortation as how to celebrate the meal.
* Cf. "Salutation";  Lam. 3:41;  Ps. 86.4.

The appropriate  (or Proper) Preface
These words state why we should give thanks using words and ideas appropriate for the season of the church year.
* Pss. 69:30;  95:2; 100:4;  107:22; 116:17;  147:7.

The Sanctus
Sanctus is a Latin word meaning "Holy."  The Sanctus contains words from Isaiah's vision of God (Isaiah 6:3) and the crowd's response on Palm Sunday when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9).  We join them in spirit by singing their words as we anticipate Christ’s coming in the sacrament.
* Is. 6:3;  Matt. 21:9 (Mk 11:9);  Ps. 118:25-26.

The Lord's Prayer
We pray to God as our Father using the prayer of the family of God* because the Lord's Supper is our family meal.
* Matt. 6:9ff;  Luke 11:2ff.

The Words of  Institution
The pastor speaks the words which Jesus spoke when He instituted the Supper with His disciples in the Upper Room.  With these words the bread and wine are consecrated, that is, set apart for God's use in the special meal.
* 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20.

The Peace
The greetings of peace which Jesus spoke on the first Easter is shared before we approach the altar to receive Him.  In the Lord's Supper, the body and blood of Christ are truly present in, with, and under the bread and wine.
* John 14:27;  John 20:19-21.

The Agnus Dei
Agnus Dei is a Latin phrase meaning "Lamb of God."  John the Baptist spoke these words as he pointed to Jesus coming toward him (John 1:29).  As Christ comes to us in the Holy Supper, we recognize him as the Lamb of God sacrificed for us to free us from the bondage of sin and death.
* John 1:29; Is. 53:7.

The Administration of the Supper
As we kneel at the Lord's Table, the pastor invites us, "Take, eat; this is the true body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, given into death for your sins.  Take, drink, this is the true blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, shed for the forgiveness of your sins."  After we receive the Sacrament we hear the comforting words spoken by the pastor, "The body and blood of our Lord strengthen and preserve you in the true faith to life everlasting."  We respond, "Amen," for this is our sincere desire. Its is a good practice to offer a silent prayer of thanks when we return to our pews.  While the meal is being distributed, the congregation and/or the choir sing one or more hymns.

The Post-Communion Canticle
"Thank the Lord," "Lord, now let Your servant go in peace," or an appropriate hymn is sung.  The purpose is to offer our thanks and express our faith in what God has done for us and promised to do for us in the future.
* "Lord, now you let Your servant go in peace", Luke 2:29f.

The Prayer of Thanks
Once again we express our appreciation to our gracious God for giving us this Holy Meal through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
* Pss. 107:1;  118:1.

The Blessing
The blessing spoken by the pastor is the Aaronic benediction, the blessing God first gave to Aaron and the other priests to speak to thew people of Israel.  Jesus Christ, our High Priest, has come to us in a special way through this Holy Meal.  The blessing is God's promise that Christ will go with us as we leave the church and return to the world to serve Him.  We sing "Amen" to affirm the blessing; "So be it -- it is true!"
* Numbers 6:23-27.

author anonymous
sourced from

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Discussion starter: God's inclusiveness it is not straight forward

If there is one issue that we need to encourage people to get deeper into is the issue of what does it mean for God to be inclusive?

Here is the problem like so many other issues for Christians (and others trying to understand Christianity)....our starting point for what it means for God to be inclusive needs to come from God's perspective (so diving into scripture is absolutely essential and also as we dive into scripture we need to allow more than one or two verses or stories help us see what it means to be inclusive).  The problem is at times we often allow other sources to inform us what it means to be inclusive without first considering God's perspective on the issue.  

So here is a start....check out the following:
Acts 1:7-8
Matthew 28:18-20
Galatians 3:26-4:7
John 3:16-17
Acts 10:45-46
Galatians 5:2-6
Romans 1:14-17
Romans 3:27-31
Romans 10:12-13
Colossians 3:5-11
Ephesians 2:12-22
John 4:1-26
John 14:6

As you read these verses think about:
How is God inclusive according to these verses?
How is God exclusive according to these verses?
What does this mean for you as a Christian and for us as congregation representing God on this earth?

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Church to visit: St Lydia's a dinner church

St Lydia's calls itself a dinner church...tied to the Lutheran and Episcopalian traditions

Who they say they are?

Our congregation is looking for an experience of the Holy that is strong enough to lean on, deep enough to question, and challenging enough to change us.
Our life together is founded on three pillars:
  • Sharing the Meal: Our worship takes place at the table around a big, delicious meal that we cook together. Communion is made as we share food and ourselves by exploring scripture, singing, and praying together.
  • Telling Our Story: Jesus told a lot of stories, and so do we. We tell the story of Christ's dying and rising, and through it, uncover the daily dyings and risings that comprise our lives.
  • Working Together: When you arrive at St. Lydia's, you'll be put straight to work preparing dinner or setting the table. Working together unites us as a community and brings us closer
    to God.

Visit their site to discover:
More about St Lydia's
How you can get involved in building the church community
Frequently Asked Questions
a guided tour
weekly blog

Visit St Lydias at

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Stewardship resources for financial tough times

When financial tough times arise church communities are presented with both a challenge to ministry and mission and an opportunity for ministry and mission.   

Following are some resources, thoughts and ideas to help church leaders and their communities to intentionally prepare for ministry in financial tough times

Let's Talk - Living theology in the Metropolitan Chicago synod

The ELCA and the Economic Downturn by Nicholas Zook
Economic Downturn and the Church’s Mission to Serve by Lauren Sanders
The Unexpected Struggle of LVC by Mark Van Scharrel
Be My People! by Liala Ritsema Beukema
Vision, Mission, and Recession by Yehiel Curry
Rods and Blessings by Robert Klonowski
Stewardship in Hard Economic Times by Dan Ruen
Stewardship Strategy by Frank Senn
Not the Way to Show Compassion by Ben Dueholm
“Religionless” Again for the First Time

The Lutheran magazine
Stewardship during an economic crisis


Tyndale University and Seminary

over 50 resources and papers including
McLaren, Brian. "Two Kinds of Economic Recovery," Sojourners Magazine, Feb. 10, 2009.
Brueggemann, Walter. "From Anxiety and Greed, to Milk and Honey. Biblical faith invites us out of self-destruction toward God`s generosity and abundance," Sojourners Magazine, Feb. 4, 2009.
Williams, Rowan, Archbishop of Canterbury. "On the Financial Crisis" (Sept 27, 2008; also: "Knowing our Limits," in Crisis and Recovery: Ethics, Economics and Justice [Palgrave Macmillan, 2010], pp. 19-34).
Marty, Martin. "Trust in Uncertain Times." Audio podcast. Speaking of Faith. MP3, 14:52 min.
Duchrow, Ulrich. "The Financial Crisis in Biblical and Theological Perspective" (Univ of Heidelberg; author of Alternatives to Global Capitalism Drawn from Biblical History)
Boff, Leonardo. "Is the Worst Yet to Come?" (Nov 29, 2008; and also Oct 3, 2008)
Lutheran World Federation, Executive Committee. "Pastoral Message Concerning the Global Financial Crisis" (Oct 24-26, 2008).
Childs, James M. Greed: Economics and Ethics in Conflict. Fortress, 2000.
Claar, Victor V., and Robin J. Klay. Economics in Christian Perspective: Theory, Policy and Life Choices. InterVarsity, 2007.
Moe-Lobeda, Cynthia D. Healing a Broken World: Globalization and God. Fortress, 2002.
Maybe we should blame God for the Subprime Mess (Time, Oct 3, 2008, on the Prosperity Gospel)

World Vision
Biblical wisdom for a financial crisis 

Pastor Richard Schwedes Portland Heywood Lutheran Church
By September 2010 our congregation was facing a shortfall of $20000 in offerings should trends continue.   Following prayer, some research (some of which suggested that congregations who had intentional good biblical teaching on money and stewardship are less affected than those who don't when conflict and financial problems arise) and study we undertook some teaching and encouragement titled Blessed to Give in October. 

The teaching took place over four weeks as follows
Week 1:  Blessed to give together

Genesis 12:1-3
Psalm 24:1
1 Peter 4:10-11
Acts 2:42-47

Week 2:  Blessed to give focussed on eternity
Psalm 121
Colossians 3:1-4
Philippians 3:17-21
Matthew 6:19-20

Week 3:  Blessed to give God's way
Leviticus 26:1-11
2 Corinthians 8:1-12
Luke 21:1-4

Week 4:  Blessed to give for God's work among us and through us
Galatians 6:6-10
Philippians 4:14-16
Matthew 25:13-30 

These teachings was supported by a brochure containing the reality of our situation, some further texts for reflection and encouragement for members to be intentional in their giving, some testimonies and encouragement to use regular electronic giving.

Fortunately and as a result of God's grace by December giving in our congregation improved and we met our budgeted offering for the year.

If you have further resources that you believe will help congregations and leaders when faced with financial tough times please email these to me at so we can share them with others....