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The Death of the Holy Innocents

The Gospel text for Sunday, January 1, 2017, was Matthew 2:13-23. It is a text I have rarely, if ever, heard preached. I have never personally preached from it in forty-five years.

Our congregation is faced with a unique trial and a season of life I hope you never go through as a Christian. On Christmas Eve our beloved pastor, Rev. Greg Moser, passed into the presence of Jesus his Lord at fifty-two years of age. We were stunned. It felt as if the joy of the season was sucked out of us. We were confused and reeling. What do we do now? Where do we turn with all our questions, fears, and doubts?

I have been asked to preach and lead the eucharistic celebration at Lutheran Church of the Master until we call an interim pastor, hopefully by February. During this time I will follow the liturgy and lectionary faithfully and seek to give pastoral wisdom and comfort to us as a people walking through deep grief.

So what to do with a text like Matthew 2:13-23? You can hear my attempt, feeble as it was, to respond

The ACT3 Cohort for 2017-18

The most important personal work I do is mentoring and preparing new leaders for missional-ecumenism. This work is high demand and high reward ministry, for both me and those who enlist. Our next group begins in May of 2017. Information is on our website. Here is a new video which shows you how the ACT3 Cohort works. It changes lives and reaches people in profoundly personal ways. Please watch this video and share it with anyone you think would benefit by considering this experience. Ask me any questions if you are interested.

Prayer for Christian Unity: January 28, 2017, Service

For several years now ACT3 Network, and the Chicago Focolare, have jointly sponsored a unique prayer service for Christian unity. This year we gather on Saturday, January 28, at 7:00 p.m. in Wheaton. Our host is Gary Methodist Church. There is no charge and everyone is welcome. This is a wonderful evening and I hope many will share it with us in 2017.

Adventus Christi: A Christmas Poem

  Adventus Christi

(The Coming of Christ)

In the desert of my heart,

I hear the voice,

“Prepare the way;”

in the chaos and the clutter,

the confusion of my making,

now I turn, to see Him standing

at the door.

And where do I begin, Lord?

I have placed so many obstacles

before the gate.  Is it too late

to move them now, or to make straight

the path that I have twisted

to my stubborn will?

I turn away, but cannot hide

from such a Light, from such a Star,

that shows me who I am, oh Lord,

and who You are.

Be born in me, oh Gift of Grace,

that from the cradle to the Cross

my path might be the path of Love,

my way, the Way of Light, of Hope,

of Peace.

Author: Stephanie Stover is a writer and poet who lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This Advent poem is used by her permission.

By |December 14th, 2016|Categories: ACT 3, Advent, Jesus, Poetry, Spirituality|

Jesus’ Upside-Down Kingdom

The kingdom of Jesus turns everything “upside down.” We settle far too easily for a tame and non-threatening gospel where grace does not surprise us. This sermon was preached at Lutheran Church of the Master, Carol Stream, IL, on June 11-12. I share it because I hope it will edify and encourage you if you like to hear a biblical sermon as an audio file.

Was Pietism an Expression of an Early Pentecostal Movement?

The Assemblies of God maintains an official heritage center called the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC) in Springfield, Missouri. Dr. Darrin Rodgers is the director of the Flower Center. In this video he addresses the important question of the relationship of the Pentecostal renewal in the last century with the movement of Pietism in the post-Reformation era. It strikes me that honest historical research, which is not built on anti-Pentecostalism, cannot help but draw the conclusions that Dr. Rodgers makes in this helpful video.

The ACT3 Cohort Group Begins Monday, May 23

On Monday, May 23, the next ACT3 Cohort begins in Carol Stream, IL. We meet in the beautiful garden room at Windsor Park on Rt. 64.

If you are interested in being a participant in this dynamic group you need to decide in the next ten days or so. This will be the best multi-denominational and multi-ethnic group I’ve had in the four-plus years we’ve trained leaders in this context. Remember, this is NOT for clergy only at all. In fact, most of those who come to the Cohorts are not clergy. Contact me directly with any questions.

If the price tag is too steep please let me know your need as I am seeking scholarship monies for all who have genuine need.

ACT3 Monday Evening Forum

The first ACT3 Monday Evening Forum of 2016 takes place this evening at 7:00 p.m. My guest is Dr. Jon Nilson, professor of theology emeritus at Loyola University in Chicago. The topic is:

“Good Theology Must Be Ecumenical: Why & How?”
Dr. Jon Nilson in dialogue with Dr. John H. Armstrong

We begin at 7:00 p.m. and end at 8:30 p.m. We meet at Lutheran Church of the Master, 580 Kuhn Road, Carol Stream, IL 60188. There is no charge and no registration. Please come and share your questions with us all. There will be no audio or video taping. I do not have the resources to do this well and no one to help me do it.

Does What We Sing Matter to the Faith of the Church?

Since the 1970s we have had a raging debate about singing and music in the church. This debate has often come down to “traditional” music, or (old) hymns, versus “modern,” or popular music. The real truth is that the great influence on church music has been a combination of the charismatic influence, much of which is good in directing our hearts to God in personal praise, and the popular songs of television and pop-culture. This “performance” music is not good, at least in my view. Why?

People do not participate in “praying twice” (St. Augustine) as much as they watch and observe and see a professional production of varying quality. On contrast, pietism went right to the heart of people when they sang their faith. What happens if we cease to express our communion in the common faith in deep and thoughtful ways?

Martin Marty on the Roots of Pietism

The famous church historian Martin Marty is part of a new series on pietism. This short clip is well worth watching. Marty “nails it” when it comes to what was lacking in the early Lutheran Reformation and the doctrinal emphasis that followed.

 

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