Here is a very nice, brief introduction to the use of the Prayer Rope.
Here is a word about the necessity of deep reading. This exhortation is aimed at Lutheran pastors, but I think it applies to all who wish to grow in their faith and intellect.
Here is the text:
An Exhortation to Deep Reading in the Church
Ours is an age of shallow reading. Blog posts, 140-character Tweets, internet memes, and infographics fill up the tiny spaces of our frenetic days: pithy, unnuanced, and unchallenging. Like a diet of sweets, they fill us up but leave us malnourished. Longer works, if read at all, are likely as not to be crass fiction or self-help manuals for surviving an increasingly cutthroat, market-driven society that cannot value anything without a price tag. Not surprisingly, these broader cultural trends have infected the church as well.
As we look at the professionalized ministry today, we see:
March 19 was the feast day of Joseph, husband of Mary and Guardian of Jesus. I wrote this yesterday.
Today is the feast day of Joseph. There is precious little that we know about Joseph. Who are his family? Where does he come from? How did he know Mary and her family? Was he older or younger? Did he have children of his own?
We are left with so many questions. What we do know is that he is righteous. He is compassionate. He is obedient to the Lord. He is obedient even at the risk of bringing shame upon himself and his extended family.
Mary has the larger place in the church’s imagination and worship life. We sing her magnificat at Christmas time and during evening prayer. We don’t sing anything of Joseph’s. But, what we do, though, is recognize his characteristics of humility, compassion, righteousness, and obedience.
I would also like to say his strength of character as well. Does it not take a strong man to whisk a family away into a foreign land based on a dream? He left his business and all that was familiar for the son that was not truly his.
He has the strength of character to keep Mary as his wife and to raise a child that is not his own. He guards and protects them both. Joseph is the reason Jesus lives to die on the cross later. Certainly, Joseph’s consent is just as important as Mary’s.
I recently read Susan Howatch’s book Glittering Images. Remarkable book in so many ways. One of the developments in the story is that Dr. Charles Ashworth’s love interest, Lyle Christie, becomes pregnant by her Bishop. Charles takes Lyle as his wife and raises, guards, and protects her son just as vigilantly as his own.
As it turns out, part of Charles’ healing after his spiritual and mental breakdown was coming to terms with his own upbringing. Turns out Charles’ father was not his biological father. What a story that turned out to be!
This part of Glittering Images makes me wonder about Joseph. What was it like for him to take Mary as his wife and raise Jesus as his son? Perhaps in heaven, we will have it all explained to us. Until then, I am grateful for the example that Joseph sets before us. He is humble, compassionate, righteous, and obedient.
Here is an invitation to read Luther that looks really interesting.
Introducing the Luther Reading Challengeby Sarah Wilson — March 16, 2015
It can’t have escaped your notice that the Reformation is approaching its 500th anniversary in just a couple of years. The buzz among Lutherans in the U.S. and around the world is gaining momentum, and even outside the fold of the faithful there is growing interest, of mixed quality—it’s pretty exciting that the Martin Luther figurine became Playmobil’s bestselling toy of all time within three days of its release this winter, but somewhat less than encouraging that the Luther Insult Generator is one of the most popular internet memes.
Luther’s reputation is as controversial as ever. He’s the liberator from overbearing religious scrutiny, the first great anti-Catholic, the champion of conscience, the first modern man, a libertine, the single-handed destroyer of the united western church, the arch-heretic; the ancestor of the division of church and state, the Protestant work ethic, and the Holocaust—all depending on who you talk to. Lutherans may have a more nuanced view, but far too often we still interpret Luther by means of slogans and half-remembered principles. Sometimes I wonder if we really know what “grace” or “the theology of the cross” means.
And more recently, too, I have noticed a certain reluctance to voice Lutheran theology—not for lack of conviction, but out of ecumenical deference. I suspect that Lutherans have been taught Luther by contrast to enemies for so long (not an altogether surprising approach, given the Reformation’s history and legacy) that, when we no longer label other Christians as enemies, we are at a loss to know how to describe ourselves. Sometimes the blame shifts away from Catholics and the Reformed to new enemies, usually of the fundamentalist type, as if all we had to offer was a corrective to other Christians’ mistakes. If that were the case, and our only mission were poaching, we’d do well to pack it in for good in 2017.
Or—maybe there is much more to discover in Luther, beyond even what Lutherans expect! That’s the wager we’re placing with the Luther Reading Challenge. LF fans already know that we place a high premium on reading as a form of intellectual and spiritual growth and of church renewal. A commitment to education was the one of the most important diaconal and social expressions of Reformation theology, and that means reading—deep, sustained, careful, engaged reading. That was the idea behind the Theological Reading Challenge we started in 2013 and continued again in 2014.
Given the enormous significance of the approaching anniversary, we’ve decided to veer from the previous format of the Reading Challenges—which started with Old Testament and New Testament texts and ranged through church history up to the modern period—for a Luther-specific one. From now until October 2017, the new Luther Reading Challenge on its own dedicated website will feature a whole range of Luther’s writings, starting (of course) with the 95 Theses and ending with his hymns. Our focus will be Luther’s foundational theological thought, pastoral and spiritual teaching, and less on the polemics and controversies. The latter are important, but they loom so large in the popular imagination they hardly need the help. Our interest here is Luther as a teacher and preacher of the Christian faith.
Each of the Luther texts comes with a brief introduction explaining the context and pointing out the key themes. Readers can add comments and engage in discussion in the right-hand column. All it takes is signing up for a free account. Please join in and spread the word!