The Second Lesson for Sunday, August 30, 2009 is James 1:17-27.

You must understand this, my Beloved:  let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.                          -James 1:19


I cannot think of a better passage for this week in the ELCA.  I have simply stopped reading the reactions (all sides, even the newspapers) to our votes in Minneapolis this past week.  To do so does not edify me or give me spiritual uplift; it only saddens me that we are so ready to accuse or condemn, bait or rhapsodize.

The best way to react, I’ve decided, is slowly.  Slow to speak, slow to anger.  For those who feel that things moved too far, and those who feel we have not gone far enough…James exhorts us to be doers of the Word, and not merely hearers.  This week, I will be quick only to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Beloved Lord, produce righteousness in us, that we might welcome with meekness the Word that has power to save our souls.  Amen.

Bishop Hanson’s Pastoral Remarks

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America made some historic policy changes this past week at the Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis.  It is worth a moment, before reacting, to consider these comments from Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson

Please continue to pray for the ELCA, its pastors, leaders, and laypersons, as we consider how these changes might be implemented while we maintain our unity in Christ. 

There are many further resources provided in the Blogroll link to the left, entitled “2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly Recap.”

Choose This Day

As I write, the ELCA is meeting and deliberating in the Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis.  Many viewpoints have been offered, many testimonies given, many ministries celebrated, and many prayers prayed.

As I write, I am looking forward to Sunday’s worship, the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, August 23, 2009.  There are some great text offered this week, that get at the heart of what obedience, unity, and difficult teaching mean.  See John 6:56-69.

As I write, I am also imagining the time of Joshua and the setting of our first reading.  “Choose this day whom you will serve.”  It’s famous!  You can even buy plaques at the Christian bookstore with this passage!   But have you noticed that almost always, when this verse is spoken of and celebrated, the emphasis is on the choosing? I’d like to re-affirm the second verb there.  You know, the one about serving.

That we might indeed be of service to You, God of Mercy.  Amen.


ELCA Churchwide Assembly Begins

August 17-23 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

You can check out the happenings online here.  There’s plenary material to browse, sessions to watch (streaming online), and you can view sessions later on-demand. 

IF YOU ARE HAVING TROUBLE with stuttering on the streaming connection, read the instructions on the page below the “launch player” button (this button only appears when the session is streaming live).  As the instructions indicate, it may be helpful to watch/listen in a different format, such as Windows Media Player (lower quality, less stuttering).

Still interested in more? You can participate in discussions on human sexuality, ask questions, or read summaries of informal reports as they happen by suscribing at

And, of course, I hope that you might connect to the Assembly by prayer during these fifty days leading up to the event.  See blogroll at left entitled, “50 Days of Prayer for ELCA.”

On Wisdom

Personification of wisdom (in Greek, "Σοφία" or "Sophia") at the Celsus Library in Ephesus, Turkey.

Personification of wisdom (in Greek, "Σοφία" or "Sophia") at the Celsus Library in Ephesus, Turkey.

Researchers in positive psychology have defined wisdom as the coordination of “knowledge and experience” and “its deliberate use to improve well being.”  With this definition, wisdom can supposedly be measured using the following criteria:

  • A wise person can discern the core of important problems.
  • A wise person has self-knowledge.
  • A wise person seems sincere and direct with others.
  • Others ask wise people for advice.
  • A wise person’s actions are consistent with his/her ethical beliefs.

 (above from Wikipedia entry, “wisdom”)

If we were to consider how these 5 abilities manifest themselves in real life, no doubt there would be room for the Christian understanding of wisdom.  I can’t quibble with one of those bullet points; they are all a part of wisdom as I see and sense it.

But what is missing?  That is the topic for Sunday, August 16 as we delve into the topic of wisdom.

God of the wise and God of the foolish, may we find ways to discern your will; then, grant us fortitude, to act accordingly.  Amen.

Global Links

Interested in God’s people around the world?

Connect to the global church through

In the morning of July 8, 2009, a fire broke out in Goma, a provincial capital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, leaving homeless 777 families (4500 individuals or more).  See

…During the second service in Háj, my eyes kept going back to a woman in a beautiful white suit.  As I preached, she smiled.  “Keep going!” she seemed to be saying, “You can do this!”… See 

Young people participating in summer programs at ELCA outdoor ministries are learning how they can make a difference for world hunger.  See 

Imagine being forced to leave your home, community, and livelihood because of violence. This is Rose Imilima’s reality. Rose, a member of a war-torn community in northern Uganda, fled . See

The Lutheran World Federation is seeking an intern (ages 18-30) to work in its Geneva offices from February – November 2010.  See and click on the link under IN THE NEWS

Join an on-line discussion about this topic from a recent article in the Lutheran magazine.  See

Since 1988, 54 church leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean have been educated with ELCA funds.  Read more about ELCA engagement in that region at

Consider creating a missionary sponsorship covenant for $88, one dollar for each ELCA missionary beginning service this summer, and you will automatically receive the 2010 Global Mission Support and Service Annual Directory.  For more information about this and five new sponsorship options, visit

How are you involved in ministry or relationships in other countries?  Complete an online survey at to help map how Lutherans are involved in God’s work around the world.

Give thanks for Jean Wahlstrom and Marv Kananen, who serve in Tanzania.  Jean is a Christian education developer and pastoral counselor at the Maasae Girls Lutheran Secondary School and Marv teaches at Moringe Sokoine Secondary School in Monduli.  (This prayer for August 6 is available along with daily prayers from around the globe at

Plan and host a congregational Global Mission Festival with this easy-to-use guide available from or 800-638-3522 ext. 2642.

(click News Releases)
+ Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Places First Darfuri Refugees
+ Lutheran Rapper Spins Music into Money for ELCA World Hunger
(click News Blog)
+ ELCA sends $50,000 to ACT for ‘rapid response’ to disasters overseas
+ Purdue researcher, Lutheran wins World Food Prize

This issue of Global Links (August 2009) contains highlights from of ELCA ministry with companion churches and agencies in other countries. Please forward Global Links in whole or in part to other individuals or groups, or use it in publications with attribution.  Please send your suggestions and comments to or to Pastor Lanny Westphal, ELCA Global Mission, 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631.

Tanzania Update

Greetings to all from Tanzania. We are all well. We have finished our work at Bomalang’ombe Secondary School. There is much left to do, but we have done what we can for now. We are in Iringa now and will take a day of holiday and then begin our journey home. Thank everyone for all the prayers and support. God has richly blessed us once more here and we will return to you with those blessings.
In Christ,
Daryl and Jane

I Am, and I Will

The Gospel text for Sunday, August 9, 2009 is continuation of the bread of life theme.  You can read the section assigned for Sunday here.


There are many words and phrases that are meant to stand out in the Gospel of John.  Words like “belief” or “sign” or “darkness/light” weave in and through the stories and give us any number of things to ponder.  This Sunday, as we continue the theme bread of life, we hear the famous I AM statement once more–plainly and often.  By my count, in these 11 verses, Jesus says I am the bread of life (or variations thereof) no less than 5 times.

But a careful reading of this interaction with the questioners also brings up another, less obvious, phrase:  I WILL. 

I will raise that person up on the last day (vs 44)


the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh (vs 51).

What I marvel over, more even than Jesus’ identity, is his intention toward and for humanity.  I will is the phrase of the determined, the resolute, the confident, the prepared.  This week, John considers Jesus’ will, Jesus’ intention, and the course of action which followed.

Jesus, bread of life, You are, and You will.     Amen.