Wednesday Worship during Lent – “This is Most Certainly True”

This ismost certainlytrue!

2017 is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation began by Martin Luther. During Lent, Pastor Andy will be preaching on the Apostle’s Creed with particular attention to Martin Luther’s explanations of the Creed in his Small Catechism. He ends each one of his explanations with “This is Most Certainly True.”

  • Wednesday, March 8th – “This is Most Certainly True”
  • Wednesday, March 15th – “I believe in God the Father”
  • Wednesday, March 22nd – “I believe in Jesus Christ”
  • Wednesday, March 29th – “I believe in the Holy Spirit”
  • Wednesday, April 5th – “… the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”

Lent is a good time to get back to the basics, and the Apostle’s Creed teaches us the basics of the Christian faith. We hope you’ll join us!

Winter book discussion seeks food for soulful action

By Tony Ends

This article was originally published in the Independent Register. Tony Ends is a member of OLC and a correspondent for the paper. You can subscribe to the Independent Register here.

A powerful, entertaining little book is mightily challenging my thinking about food and faith this winter.

I’m teaming up with a powerful scholar of “the word” to reflect on this text in community for the next 8 weeks. Anyone hungry for some thought-provoking “meals” with us is welcome to attend for

“Eating Your Way through Luke’s Gospel” is the book. Rev. Dr. Lee Bohnhoff, a master of translation and interpretation, is my partner in reading, exploring and conversing over this text.

Orfordville Lutheran Church is letting the two of us meet each Sunday at 10 a.m. following morning services to facilitate this reading. The church has even helped make copies of the book available for the series, Jan. 22 through Feb. 26, 210 N. Main in Orfordville.

What’s an old newspaper man turned farmer got to contribute to this reading and discussion?

I confess a strange and checkered spiritual walk. Born protestant, I studied in a Catholic university. Baptized Lutheran as an adult, I was confirmed Episcopalian in marriage.

Along the way I sang psalms in a synagogue, prayed with Moslems and at times lost faith from what I experienced or saw of hunger, extreme poverty, death and divorce.

Numbering among only two people in 100 who still farm has helped me understand something about my culture, though. Biblical stories and lessons written largely to farming, herding, fishing people centuries ago have become for too many of us irrelevant, or at least hard to understand,  today.

Enter Franciscan theologian and scriptural teacher Robert J. Karris, author of “Eating Your Way through Luke’s Gospel.” Karris is head of research at Franciscan Institute, St. Bonaventure University, in New York. He’s also a very frequent speaker on the importance of acting on faith to address the needs of the poor.

What better way for a people who love to eat, snack and dine, to clearly understand relationships relevant to life and the world today!

As I read again Luke’s Gospel, with the help of Karris’ book,  my eyes are opened to this relevancy and importance. Karris first helps me understand  what food, drink, meat, wine, fish, bread, hospitality and “symposiums over food” were like in Roman Palestine.

He then challenged me to read the book of Luke, deliberately looking for, even counting my way to more than 70 references to food.

“In Luke’s Gospel,” Karris writes, ‘Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal. References to food abound on almost every single page of Luke’s Gospel.”

Why? What themes were intended? What was the relationship of food to power? What is food’s relationship to power today? Who is exercising that power and why?

Short, probing questions following each chapter in this slender, yet very full book, help readers reflect on how each story in Luke from long ago can nurture us today.

One of several reasons I look forward to working through the book in a group is that Lee Bohnhoff is taking up the task, too.

I’ve recounted in this newspaper my history of work in Africa back to the Peace Corps in 1975, up through volunteer trips to Senegal and work in the Congo the past 4 years. I share a deep appreciation for Africa with Lee.

A 1958 graduate of Luther College and 1962 graduate of Luther Theological Seminary, Lee recently retired from 39 years of Lutheran mission work in Cameroon.

The year he graduated from seminary in St. Paul, he married Eloise Hanson and they went to Paris, France for a year to study French before arriving in Cameroon in September 1963.

He worked in the Dii language (pronounced Dee), where over the years he trained 11 people for work in the Dii Literature Center.  Each person learned to read, write, type, edit, create or translate, and mimeograph books and booklets for church use in Dii.

Lee had to teach the center employees how to manipulate a computer, diskettes and printer – when (and if) there was enough electricity to run the machines. There is none in Mbé where the Dii Literature Team works, so they sometimes had to work in Ngaoundéré.

The literature team produced a whole series of Dii books and booklets, some going through several editions over the years:  primers and readers to teach reading and writing in Dii; hymnal, catechism, liturgy book, Bible stories booklets, evangelism tracts for ELCC work; development booklets on pregnancy, how to care for children, the danger of pesticides, how to improve cooking; and general literature and technical items like calendars, a Dii-French dictionary, a Dii Phonology and Grammar, booklets of folktales, and a Dii language course for expatriates, including audio tapes.

Lee’s last year in Cameroon saw published the latest edition of the hymnal, 91 selected Old Testament Psalms and the whole New Testament in the Dii language.

Eloise died in 1969 and is buried in Ngaoundéré.  Lee remarried in 1979, to Torbjørg Johanne Heimstad who was working with the Norwegian Mission Society at the time.

They retired to the United States in 2001. Torbjørg passed away in 2012 and is buried in Orfordville Lutheran Cemetery.  Lee continues to live in Orfordville.

I’ve already started learning from Lee what he’s learned and taught of Luke, a physician whose writing shows the best command of Greek in the Gospels.

Luke was also sort of an early reporter, interviewing people about the life of Jesus and writing about it. He is believed to have left his work as a physician in Antioch to follow the Apostle Paul.

Modern medicine is attributed to a Greek, Hippocrates, who lived some 400 years before Luke. Such lasting and pervasive influence as Hippocrates has had on medicine, it seems obvious his teachings are reflected in Luke’s writing.

For Hippocrates, health is food. It is intimately connected to what makes us strong or weak, healthful or sick, nourished or malnourished, fit or fat.

This brings us round to the beginning, the joy of eating and the quest for ethical living in Luke’s gospel. The invitation is open to everyone.

Praying for Christ’s Flock at OLC

Pastor Andy and Kristin at the Sea of Galilee.

Pastor Andy and Kristin at the Sea of Galilee.

I prayed for you today in the Church of the Primacy of Peter. They believe this is the place where Jesus told Peter to feed and tend his sheep after his resurrection (see John 21:15-19). It’s a meaningful story for all of us, but as a pastor I feel particularly moved by Christ’s words. The word “Pastor,” after all, comes from the Latin noun for shepherd. We could say that Peter was the first person Jesus called to be a pastor.

It seemed fitting, then, to pray for Christ’s flock at Orfordville Lutheran Church. As I sat in this small sanctuary on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, I read the prayers you wrote for me to bring with to the Holy Land. There were prayers for healing and challenges, for your families, for safety on our trip, for peace in our world and for the leaders of the United States, and more. Being in this place has reminded me that in Jesus Christ we are in the care of the Good Shepherd.

The house of St. Peter in Capernaum.

The house of St. Peter in Capernaum.

There’s so much more I could and will tell you about. For now, I wanted to share this story and a couple of pictures.

May you be fed and guided by Jesus, the Good Shepherd!

Pastor Andy

Peace Be With You

Pastor's Corner - Peace. Be Still.Is there a place in your life where you can find peace? If you’re like me, you find it easy to get pulled into the busyness, noise, and stress of life. I have a sense that many of us are yearning for peace in our hearts and lives. There are the everyday stresses of work and family. There’s the information overload that comes through our televisions, computers, and smart phones. Then, there are the extraordinary stressors like disease, job loss, grief, war, and financial strain. When was the last time you experienced peace?

Every week I get to stand up in front of my church family and say, “The peace of Christ be with you always.” The congregation generously responds: “And also with you.” Then, we share this peace with one another by shaking hands, hugging, waving, or simply saying “God’s peace.” In doing so, we are taking part in the ancient Christian practice of passing the peace.

After his resurrection, Jesus greeted his disciples in a similar way by saying, “Peace be with you” (Luke 24:36, John 20:19). After Jesus was crucified, I imagine the disciples were scared for their lives and grieving for their friend. When Jesus returned to them, his first words were of peace. The early Christians followed Christ’s example by sharing peace with one another. The Apostle Paul, for example, began many of his letters with “Grace and peace be with you.” Likewise, early Christian communities would greet one another with a “holy kiss” as a sign of peace (Rom. 16:16, 1 Cor. 16:20, 1 Thess. 5:26). Our upper Midwest congregations might stick to handshakes and hugs, but the idea behind the gesture is the same as 2,000 years ago.

For the next four weeks, in this column, I’d like to dwell on how we find peace and how we share peace with others. I believe there is a connection between the peace we experience in our hearts and the peace we create in our communities and world. After all, the same Jesus who says “Peace be with you” also says “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

For this week, I simply want to invite you to reflect on how we find peace in the midst of what can be a stressful life. Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (NRSV). But how do we do that?

For me, I return to the story of Jesus calming the storm in Mark 4:35-41. Jesus’ disciples become afraid when a great storm surrounds them and begins to swamp their boat with giant waves. They panic and rush to wake up Jesus who has been sleeping in the back of the boat. Jesus rises and says to the sea, “Peace! Be Still!” We may not be in the midst of an actual storm, but perhaps we can empathize with the anxiety and fear of the disciples. I find comfort in Christ’s words and connect them to the words of Psalm 46: “Be still and know that I am God.” Maybe one step towards letting Christ’s peace rule in our hearts is simply to find moments to be still. Maybe “Peace. Be still.” could be your silent prayer this week.

The stress of life is real and many people in our communities are hurting. I pray that we find ways to share the peace and grace of God with one another. And in the midst of life’s storms, may the peace of Christ be with you always.

Note: This post originally appeared in the Brodhead Free Press and the Independent Register as part of their weekly “Pastor’s Corner” column.