Christ’s use of donkeys

The Gospel reading for the first Sunday of Advent last week was about Christ’s Triumphal Entry.  Rev. William Weedon, the chaplain of the LCMS headquarters in St. Louis, preached about Christ coming on that donkey.  He started by quoting G. K. Chesterton’s poem  on the subject.  He goes on to point out how God seems to prefer working through the humblest and most unimpressive kinds of things.  Sample:

Water, bread, wine, hot air from a man’s mouth. Them be the lowly beasties that God STILL chooses to “ride on” to come to us, to be our servant King. They look so ordinary, so utterly unimpressive. I mean, think about it. A man dressed up in an outfit that looks more than a bit like a circus clown pours a handful of water over the head of an oblivious child and that’s the difference between eternal life and eternal death, between heaven and hell? Or certain words are spoken over bread and wine which they are given out into our mouths, and this is the food that if one eats of he does not die, but lives in Christ forevermore? Or a bunch of people sit in pews week in and week out listening to a man jaw on about stuff from a book whose last bit was written 2,000 years ago, and this is what the Church lives from?

Read the rest of the message after the jump. [Read more…]

Church growth for confessional Lutherans

OK, I’ve been kind of hard on the church growth movement lately (e.g., here and here), but I acknowledge its good intentions and practical advice.  My CCLE colleague Paul J. Cain (not to be confused with Paul McCain), is a confessional Lutheran pastor in Wyoming who has published a little book entitled  5 Things You Can Do to Make Your Congregation a Caring Church.

He knows that God grows the Church by means of the Word and Sacraments.  But there are are some kingdom-of-the-lefthand aspects that can help encourage people to come to receive them.   He talks about common-sense things like parking and the state of the building, greeters and ushers.  But he cuts quickly to a far more important factor that can make a congregation attractive in a good sense (or, if this is not present, send both visitors and members screaming away).  Namely, the ethos of the congregation.  Do people here care about one another?  Does the congregation care about anyone besides one another, showing compassion to people in need and to others outside the church?  If not, how can that change?

The book is short, extremely practical, and illustrated with Pastor Cain’s personal experiences.  After the jump, the product description from Amazon and a link to buy it.

Discussion topic:  What are some things confessional Lutherans–or orthodox, traditionalist congregations of other church bodies–might do to “grow their churches” that would not compromise their doctrines or practice?

[Read more…]

Lawsuit over the Statue of Liberty

You know the  “forever” stamp with a closeup of the face of the Statue of Liberty?  A few years ago, there was a bit of controversy when it was discovered that the image on the stamp is not of the Lady Liberty who presides over the harbor at New York City.  Rather, it is a copy of the cheesy fake statue at the New York-New York casino in Las Vegas!

That’s bad enough.  But now the sculptor is suing the US Postal Service for copyright infringement and may be entitled to royalties for every stamp sold (which comes to 4 billion).  In his lawsuit, the artist, Robert S. Davidson, claims that he “brought a new face to the iconic statue — a face which audiences found appeared more ‘fresh-faced,’ ‘sultry’ and ‘even sexier’ than the original.”  Maybe Mr. Davidson should pay a royalty for plagiarizing–if not vandalizing–the national monument!  Read about the case and compare the images after the jump. [Read more…]

“The Lord sustains my life”

A Nigerian ship sank to the bottom of the Atlantic.  Three days later, divers went down to recover the bodies.  As a diver reached out to a floating hand, the hand grabbed him.  A man survived, thanks to an air pocket and a bottle of Coke.  And, of course, God.  All through his ordeal, he was praying the Psalm, texted to him by his wife:  “Oh God, by your name, save me. … The Lord sustains my life.”

After the jump, read the details and watch the dramatic video of the rescue, which includes the hand and the diver’s reaction when it grabs him. [Read more…]

Man as hybrid of chimp and pig

A prominent evolutionary scientist, Dr. Eugene M. McCarthy, is advancing a new theory about the origins of man.  He says that while it is true that a chimpanzee is our closest genetic relative, human beings have characteristics that are unlike any other primate.  For example, we lack the hairy hide of chimps and instead have just plain skin; under that skin, we have a layer of subcutaneous fat, whereas you never see an obese chimp; we have a protuding nose, whereas an ape’s nose is flat; and there are scores of other differences.  Dr. McCarthy postulates that human beings may be a hybrid of two different kinds of animal.  The animal that has those other characteristics–skin, fat, protuding nose, etc.– is the pig. [Read more…]

What’s the matter with kids these days?

My former student Brett Harris shows that he was paying attention when our literature class studied irony.  But notice his overall point:

Young people have absolutely NOTHING to offer. The sooner they realize this and stop trying to do grownup stuff the better for everyone.

For example, this 13-year-old girl got so overwhelmed visiting a neonatal unit in Kenya that she ran outside and passed out!

LET’S FACE IT: Young people are too incompetent and irresponsible to make a difference in the world. They should focus on staying entertained and out of the way.

Unfortunately, this girl didn’t learn her lesson the first time. [Read more…]