Casual notes

Started by Charles_Austin, July 21, 2010, 06:12:44 AM

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Charles_Austin

Just casual notes that may or may not be of interest

Charles_Austin

Met former bishop, Paull Spring at the coffee break this morning. He is here as a visitor.
Also met my old friend Dr. Samuel Nafzger, LC-MS and head of the ILC.
We had a fine talk about the need to continue conversation across all Lutheran lines, a theme Dr. Nafzger has proclaimed for years. There is a level of "fellowship" that is not "full fellowship," and that should be nurtured.

Charles_Austin

Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima brought greetings to the Assembly from His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Part of the message:
The Orthodox Church continues its theological dialogue with the Lutheran Churches through the Lutheran World Federation with responsibility and commitment. We celebrate next year the completion of 30 years since this dialogue was initiated and we acknowledge with sincerity that the path ahead of us will be long and difficult toward the hoped for an expected unity.
My observation: the dialogue will continue and unity is "expected." (Being of the Eastern Churches, of course, the Metropolitan may be thinking in centuries.)

The Patriarch's message said:
Orthodoxy understands that such a dialogue exists only to reach the goal of communion and that there should be no deviation from this task until the goal is reached.

My observation: Good

The Patriarch's message:
The unity of the Church is a gift from God and its fulfillment could be realized only with a return to the common historical and theological sources of the Undivided Church, to the period of the Apostolic teaching, of the Church Fathers and of the Synodical Ecumenical Councils of the Church and in the participation of the sacraments and mysteries in the life of the Church.
My observation: O.k., so here we have some problems. But at least there is something to talk about.


Charles_Austin

The retiring head of the Vatican's Pontifical Office for Promoting Christian Unity told Lutherans here he felt "deep emotion and gratitude" looking back on "these years of such rich and enriching cooperation with the Lutheran World Federation." Cardinal Walter Kaspar said "Lutheran Catholic relations have been since the beginning of our international dialogue...in my heart and will remain in my heart." Kaspar retires this year after heading the Vatican's office for Christian Unity since 2001.
The cardinal said the 1999 signing of a Lutheran-Roman Catholic "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification," was "a milestone of the ecumenical movement."
Referring to his recent, "Harvesting the Fruits," a book about the ecumenical movement, Kaspar said "I was more than surprised to see such a rich harvest and that we have achieved much more than we could even dream before. There has been no ecumenical winter."
Kaspar paid special tribute to LWF President Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and LWF General Secretary Ishmael Noko as especially "good friends" of Lutheran-Roman Catholic relations.

ptmccain

a return to the common historical and theological sources of the Undivided Church, to the period of the Apostolic teaching, of the Church Fathers and of the Synodical Ecumenical Councils of the Church and in the participation of the sacraments and mysteries in the life of the Church.

Sounds like a very wise and appropriate comment, no doubt to gently point out that many of the leadership in the larger Lutheran churches in the LWF have moved away from the "common historical and theological sources" of the undivided Church.

Too bad the Orthodox spokesman was not as blunt as was the Orthodox representative who spoke to the Presbyterian Church USA at their recent convention. Who, as reported by the Associated Press, said that efforts to approve gay marriage looked to him like an attempt to "invent a new religion a sort of modern paganism." Hardun added, "When people say that they are led and guided by the Holy Spirit to do it, I wonder if it is the same Holy Spirit that inspired the Bible." The Orthodox priest's remarks drew applause from conservative Presbyterians who made similar arguments at the gathering in Minneapolis.


Charles_Austin

Well, Pastor McCain, perhaps our dialogue partners are more interested in continuing the dialogue rather than hammering us on how wrong they think we are.

Charles_Austin

A very good booklet has been published by the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue group for Sweden and Finland.
It is titled: Justification in the Life of the Church.
There is a history of the dialogues, a reasonably detailed history of the Reformation in Sweden and Finland, a long chapter on justification, with chapters on justification and baptism and justification and the eucharist.
There are chapters about the eucharist and the presence of Christ, ordination and mission.
Another chapter deals with bishops, apostolic succession, ordination, and authority.
Some summaries include suggestions for further steps, including a suggestion as to how - in certain cases - Lutherans and Roman Catholics could commune together.
The chapters I read during lunchtime and coffee breaks today were very interesting.
It is published by the Church of Sweden and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockholm and the Church of Finland and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helsinki.
ISBN 978-91-977903-5-2

Virgil

Any thoughts on the Mennonite thing that Sarah Wilson references at Lutheran Forum?

Charles_Austin

The reconciliation ceremony, where Lutherans apologized and asked forgiveness from God and from Mennonites for our implication in the persecutions of the Reformation era, took place this afternoon, followed by a worship service of reconciliation.
We should get the news story online soon.
Meanwhile, go here for the statement
http://www.lwf-assembly.org/explore/lutheran-mennonite-reconciliation/


Charles_Austin

Tonight the Assembly participants trooped over to Schiller Platz for an evening of music and fellowship. The food was intended to be simple - rice with chicken, couscous with vegetables - to remind us of the hungry in the world. And you could eat the small "bowl" the food came in. (It tasted like cardboard, but you could eat it.)
A local brass band played a little, but the ensemble of squeeze boxes and violins got a better response with a little polka music and there was a bit of arm-linking and swaying as we sang "Muß i' denn, muß i' denn, Zum Städtele hinaus, Städtele hinaus Und du mein Schatz bleibst hier"
And, to my great pleasure, "Lili Marlene".
An African choir sang as well. Then a pop songstress, apparently of some note, sang two songs she wrote about loving God and providing "daily bread."
That was followed by a gospel choir of about a dozen young people - with terrific male and female singers - and I asked a friend: "Did we just get transported to a Baptist church in Alabama?" It was a bit of old-time Gospel, and then a lot of contemporary gospel rock. Oh, well.
It didn't look like the other band was coming back, so I gave up hoping we could sing "In himmel, da gibts kein bier" or "Freut euch des lebens" and walked back to the Hotel Wartburg, my quarters for these two weeks. Nifty find along the way - Häagen Dazs ice cream.
Tomorrow I go to Andreaskirche in a suburb called Uhlbach to hear Bishop Younan preach.

Charles_Austin

Sunday morning I took a taxi about 15 km to the charming village of Uhlbach where Bishop Younan, president-elect of the LWF was to preach at the Andreaskirche. The church is a 14th century edifice, nicely preserved and with a huge tower, that almost seems out of proportion to the rest of the building.
     In the courtyard outside the church door is a memorial to members of the parish killed in the wars of the 20th Century. We don't have photo capability here, so I can't post pictures, but the monument is quite moving. Rather than showing, as many do, soldiers standing in uniform and battle kit, weapons raised, this one shows a figure, unclothed, sprawled on his back, limbs splayed and a sword (which has the proportions not of a sword, but a cross) lying beside the body, as if the cross itself had been slain in the war. On raised slabs of the concrete plinth are the names from 1914-1918 and 1939-1945. I think there must have been at least 80 names.
     No one can enter the front door of this church without walking close to that monument.
     Uhlbach is near Esslingen and some of the region's famous vineyards extend up the hill from the church. Members told me after church that the vineyards and the church get many visitors during the wine season. (A bus of German tourists came through as we stood outside the church.)
     Pastorin Margarete Goth greeted me and there were front pews reserved for visitors from the LWF Assembly. A few others came, along with Bishop Younan and some of his colleagues.
     The churchbells rang (for about five minutes) and teenagers in the Confirmation class led us in procession into the service. After the invocation (traditional wording), Pastor Goth called the official visitors up front and a churchwarden asked about their work, translating from English to German if necessary. (As working staff rather than official visitor, this humble correspondent did not have to display my facility with German, at least before the whole congregation.)
     The service would not have thrilled those here with certain inclinations. Hymn ("Heilig, Heilig, Heilig"), psalm, prayer, lesson, sermon, hymn ("Kindlein des Licht" I think), longer prayer, hymn ("Nun Danket alle Gott"), benediction. A brass choir had played a prelude, and a fine acapella adult choir sang two anthems. A story on the bishop's sermon - "Children of the Light" - will be on the assembly website.
     The congregation served juice, wine, water and some small pastries following worship and the official guests were to be taken on a tour of the vineyards and a hilltop chapel where Wuerttemburg royalty of the 19th century are buried. This non-official guest was prepared to take bus and S-Bahn back to Stuttgart and our newsroom, but a young man almost ready to graduate from the university with a degree in engineering offered to drive me back to the city.
     No Assembly activities this afternoon. I worked in our newsroom, napped, and am back at work to check some of the other things we are doing.

Charles_Austin

Last note of the day:
Food at the Assembly, served cafeteria style in a fine large room, has been very good. Interesting menus, variety from day to day, excellent presentation, bottles of mineral water and apfelsaft on the tables, attentive staff who will remove plates as you finish, but do not intrude.
And tonight I enjoyed eating it while sitting with former Bishop Paull Spring and his wife.

Charles_Austin

Allow me to direct you to the videos and blogs on the LWF Assembly website.
I especially recommend the video about the women in Mauritania who are taught to be "solar energy engineers" and able to deliver that kind of power to their villages.
There is also a nifty video of young people, smiling and energetic, saying "Give us today our daily bread" in a bunch of languages.
And you will be able to meet some Assembly participants.
Enjoy.

Charles_Austin

Today the LWF Eleventh Assembly began dealing with a list of resolutions on various issues such as gender justice, protection of the food supply, support for the persecuted Dalit people in India etc. etc. Sometimes seemed like a yawner and simply the "old social issue stuff" again. Yet in "village groups" that have been meeting each day, these issues took life.
So.... What about evangelism? What about winning the world for Christ? The thing is, an Assembly is not where those sort of things emerge. Evangelism is local and contextual, so it is more likely to be discussed in the regional meetings - and it was - than in the international Assembly.
Stories on the various resolutions will be posted on the Assembly web site.
I do see increasing references to expanding and improving Lutheran theological education around the world. The subject was mentioned by both the outgoing general secretary, Dr. Ishmael Noko, and the incoming general secretary, Dr. Martin Junge.
The LWF also has a role in brokering and mediating meetings and disputes in Lutheran churches. Dr. Junge explained how the LWF has helped the Chilean churches (he is from Chile) overcome the schism that occurred in the 1970s and the days of the military dictatorship. Lutherans now cooperate fully and a complete reunion is likely in a few years, thanks partly to the LWF-arranged meetings, he said.
Work has kept me from attending many of the morning worship services, so I haven't much to say about what went on. One I did attend had a creative and moving "chancel drama" with Adam and Eve, dust, and the care of the earth as the theme. 
I do hope to report on the closing eucharist tomorrow afternoon.
The Assembly website is  http://www.lwf-assembly.org/
And there are Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Tweet things going on as well.

ptmccain

Quote from: Charles_Austin on July 26, 2010, 02:53:26 PM
So.... What about evangelism? What about winning the world for Christ? The thing is, an Assembly is not where those sort of things emerge.

And that's part of the problem with the LWF, where a whole lot of issues get a lot of attention, but not the Gospel of Jesus Christ and our Lord's mission. The Gospel assumed, is the Gospel denied.


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