Our ancestors focused much attention on strangers, aliens, foreigners, those fleeing persecution. Central to the self-understanding of all who hold the Hebrew scriptures as sacred is this line from Exodus:
You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.Exodus 22:21
Except for our Native American kindred, we US citizens were all once strangers in a strange land. The recent declaration of the ELCA as a sanctuary church body is one more way that we are seeking to recognize that, […]
June 28, 2019
In the late 1990s the Federal Government threatened water rights to the Little Walla Walla River because Steelhead and Bull Trout were listed as a threaten species. I was a pastor in Milton-Freewater at the time. Those of us who understand the complexities of rural agriculture can imagine the chaos this threatened. Local irrigators, and our church, began to build a coalition which included the Tribes, various government agencies, diverse environmental groups and more. We found a solution and a way around the crisis. Cooperation was the key.
In 2008 I was asked by Gov. Kulongoski to sit as […]
Living at the “convergence of opportunity, need and change” the Oregon Synod voted May 11, 2019 to call the Rev. Laurie Larson Caesar to the office of synodical bishop. Congratulations to our new Bishop Elect! She will assume her office August 1, 2019.
The picture to the left is of the former Elwha Dam in Washington State. It was removed in 2012 to restore natural fish habitat and it is the largest dam removal in U.S. history (click on photo for video.) Assistant to the Bishop Susan Kintner made […]
“Christ has risen! He has risen indeed! Alleluia!!”
My wife Gretchen is an end of life advance planner. If she has been to your congregation you know her passion is for a full life and a dignified death. Once the question of healers was “How can we keep this person alive?” Now, when doctors can do so much, the question often is, “When does fighting death rob us of life?” Gretchen will tell you that you have choices you make, and that now is the time to make them. If you choose and […]
Last month I began a series of five monthly emails in response to questions I’ve received about my vision for the Oregon Synod. I started out with some “big picture” thoughts in February. There I spoke of a “convergence of opportunity, need and change” in the world around us. The ground rules for life really have changed. How we proclaim the Gospel in the midst of 21st century stresses is the question we must engage. This month I’d like to reflect on some […]
The United Methodist Church (UMC) has just completed a Special Session of their General Conference held in St. Louis, Missouri February 23-26, 2019. The UMC is a broader communion than the ELCA so this meeting included churches from Africa, the United States and beyond. The purpose of the Special Session was to receive and act on a report from the UMC Commission on a Way Forward, authorized to examine paragraphs in the The Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and to explore options to strengthen church unity.
Central to the Commission’s work was the possible acceptance of LGBTQ […]
Three weeks ago I was in Phoenix, AZ with faculty and staff from PLTS and Luther Seminary. There were also a few ELCA Churchwide staff and other guests present. Our discussion was around the needs and opportunities for church leadership in this new age. Saturday evening I flew home and then Sunday I was privileged to be with Pr. Carl Hansen and the congregations of Colton Lutheran and St. Paul of Damascus for worship.
Last weekend I sat with the board of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. We’re in a search for a new […]
Everything about being human – vision and imagination; our health; politics; family; mysticism, poetry and the arts; our economic well-being; religion; joy; social structures – everything and any thing about human health and wholeness is derivative. That is to say that our human wholeness is dependent upon something else. Human health is not a possibility without the health and wholeness of our planet. That’s the something else. And now, for the first time in the 14 billion years of the universe’s evolution, the opposite is also true. The Earth’s health and viability is […]
The Holy Days of Christendom no longer mark the progress of our time. Once church bells tolled the hours of the day, and holidays told the story of the year. There were four Sundays of Advent; 12 days of Christmas celebration, December 25-January 5; and then there was the Day of Epiphany, January 6. This was the day of the star and the Wisemen.
One might long for a simpler, more “Christian” time, but truth be told the Bible story differs from the tradition it has become. Matthew 1 does not speak of kings, but […]
The Oregon Synod staff wishes you all a very merry and blessed Christmas. We value all we share together with you and give thanks for the birth of Jesus. May our hearts have room for that God gives this day, and in the year to come.
Fourth Sunday in Advent 2018
Now we’re getting close! We are pregnant with hope. Mary and Elizabeth are pregnant with holiness. The story takes us back, pre-birth, to a place of expectation and promise.
But don’t you see. This is what Advent has been about all along. Christians are people of a proclamation, but God’s work among us is not done. We are also – and always – people of expectation and promise. And what do we learn from Mary, the mother of our Lord, and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist? […]