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August 2008—In this Issue:
View the entire issue as a full-color PDF via the link below:
August 2008 HeartBeat (PDF)
Engaging the Book of Faith
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is undertaking a church-wide challenge that has the potential to change the face of our church in untold ways. A bold group of theologians, pastors, educators, and seminary professors are encouraging Lutherans to do something so radical, so fundamental, and so outrageous that if it succeeds, the ELCA may be thrown into turmoil and a tizzy from which it may never recover. No, I am not talking about the Human Sexuality Draft study or a newly minted social draft on genetic engineering. I am talking about the Bible.
In an exciting, (and perhaps daring) move, our Bishop, our publishing company, and our teachers are challenging pastors and lay persons alike to commit to regular and even disciplined reading of scripture for building up the body of Christ—a program called “Book of Faith.”
It sounds obvious doesn’t it? Wouldn’t you think that Christians would be interested in reading God’s Word as it comes to them in scripture? Research has shown that many, if not most professed Christians have only a passing familiarity with the Holy Scriptures. A recent Time magazine article noted: “According to Religious Literacy, polls show that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the Bible holds the answers to ‘all or most of life’s basic questions,’ but pollster George Gallup has dubbed us ‘a nation of biblical illiterates.’ Only half of U.S. adults know the title of even one Gospel. Most can’t name the Bible’s first book. The trend extends even to Evangelicals, only 44% of whose teens could identify a particular quote as coming from the Sermon on the Mount.” (“A Case for Teaching the Bible,” Time, 22 March 2007) Ironically, Lutherans fare only slightly better than average despite a historical and theological emphasis on the Bible.
Is Biblical literacy important? Luther emphasized that God’s Word is the “source and norm” of our faith and proclaimed “sola scriptura” (Word alone) as a hallmark of the Lutheran faith. For centuries the Lutheran movement has insisted on educated clergy who know the Bible and an educated laity who engage scripture and are engaged by the Bible. Sunday School, parochial school, confirmation, good preaching, adult Bible studies, and small reading groups are all ways our church works to encourage and equip people with some level of Biblical literacy. But all the resources in the world will not help if flagging interest keeps parishioners and others from ever picking up a Bible. For some, the Bible just isn’t relevant. Stories about ancient armies, grumpy prophets—along with wild tales of healings and miracles—seem antiquated to the modern reader. Our scientific sophistication may make the impossible stories of the Bible seem foolish. For others, it is just not interesting. Still others contend that there simply is not enough time to read the Bible. You probably also have your reasons.
Frankly, the Bible still carries God’s wonderful message of grace that transcends time, literary style, or scientific conventions. In fact, this is one of the most exciting times to read the Bible! Science and literature are giving new and wonderful insights into the culture and people of the bible. New translations and commentaries are bringing the stories alive and helping us to relate them to modern times. It is a great time to be reading the Bible!
I am going to propose to Learning Ministry and to our Council that Lutheran Church of Honolulu become a Book of Faith congregation. This means that we will commit ourselves to joining the conversation about the Bible and become more fluent in scripture, the first language of our faith. I will commit to a regular midweek Bible study and offer regular adult studies on Sunday. I hope you will join me and even offer to start your own study groups in homes and cafes in our community. Second, I hope to develop a class specifically for seekers who want to learn more about the Bible.
The ELCA is committed to providing leadership and materials for the effort. Of course, not all the materials will be fantastic, but what we do with the materials will be fantastic! Book of Faith!
Pastor Jeff Lilley
Mary Fastenau, Council Secretary
We’ve reached our goal for the “Blessed to Build Two Blessings” campaign!—The LCH ‘ohana has generously donated $4,000 towards our goal of $20 per baptized member or $4260. Our Council has decided to send the $260 balance in advance, in order for our congregation to meet the Pacifica Synod’s challenge. The first installment check of $2,500 was given at Synod Assembly in May, and a second installment check of $1,760 will soon be sent to the Synod, along with the names of all donors. Mahalo nui loa to all who have so generously given to the B2B2B campaign!
Where’s the money for other special projects?—Some of you are probably wondering what happened to the money that you donated for the Hörmann Courtyard and for the Parking Lot Improvements. We are happy to say that each fund has approximately $12,500. When the Ministry Planning Task Force completes and presents its findings to the staff and church council, then a Master Plan for LCH can be formulated, and individual projects can be undertaken. Until then, the money for these two funds have been put aside specifically for these projects.
Remember the Wednesday Lenten calabash?—A recent thank you note from the Domestic Violence Action Center reminds us that our giving extends towards our local community. This non-profit organization provides resources that can assist victims of domestic violence escape a life of abuse. Nanci Kriedman, executive director of the DV Action Center, thanked LCH for its $223 donation and also for our compassion and aloha for victims of domestic violence. Let’s continue our aloha for domestic violence victims with our prayers.
Pau Hana Friday is alive and well at LCH. We will gather at Ala Moana Beach Park 28B on Friday, August 1, beginning at 4:30 pm, with dinner served at 6:00 pm. Main dish and sides provided, but bring desserts and sides if you like!
Stay for the Hilton Hawaiian Village fireworks at 8:30 pm. They’re awesome!
LCHers are generous! The July ingathering for Angel Network was wonderful. Thank you for your support. A shopping cart over-flowing with saimin, canned tuna, spam, canned fruit, and personal care items was collected for Angel Network located at Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church. Ingatherings are scheduled for the first Sunday of every month.
Sunday, August 3, at 10:30 am (and continuing the first Sunday of every month), the chairperson or another representative of each committee will meet in the Boardroom with Pastor Jeff Lilley and Council President Brian Weis. This is to enhance communications between all committees. See you all there!
In Stitches, the LCH craft group, will meet through the summer on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month from 9:00 to 11:00 am in the Boardroom. We work on our own projects or on items for the church. The next few meeting dates are August 9 and 23, September 13 and 27, and October 11 and 25. Come join us. For more information, contact Linda Miller through the Church Office (941-2566).
The Mary Magdalene Society will have a meeting on Saturday, August 9, at 6:00 pm in Isenberg Hall. There will be a potluck followed by a short business meeting, and then let the games begin! Please bring your favorite game. All are welcome.
The main order of business will be a discussion on becoming a chapter of Lutherans Concerned/North America instead of Mary Magdalene. This will make us more recognizable. We need five members to join Lutherans Concerned (for membership dues of $25 or more) to become a chapter.
If you are interested in hosting a future Mary Magdalene meeting in your home, please contact Robert Zimmer through the Church Office (941-2566).
The Fellowship committee will be hosting a Brunch Potluck on Sunday, August 10, after the 9:15 service. The committee will be furnishing a ham and dinner rolls. Please bring a dish to share as shown below:
We look forward to this fellowship event on our last summer service.
Writers’ Workshop will meet on Monday, August 11, 7:00–8:30 pm in the Boardroom (or the Rainbow Room) at LCH. This will be our first meeting after the summer hiatus; we will be planning the rest of our Fall schedule. All are welcome.
For information, please contact Kathryn Klingebiel through the Church Office (941-2566).
On Saturday, August 16, come and surf with OYEA youth at White Plains Beach at Barbers Point from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Bring your own board and a friend, or use one of ours.
LHC prepares and serves a meal of ‘ono meatloaf at IHS every month. Here Olivia & Jimmy Castro and Rudy Riingen ready to eat after working.
Food for Thought will meet for a potluck supper and discussion at the home of Irmgard Hörmann on Saturday, August 16, at 6:30 pm. All are welcome.
For directions or information, please contact Kathryn Klingebiel through the Church Office (941-2566).
The Social Ministries Committee will meet in the Boardroom at LCH on Sunday, August 17, after the second service. The committee will be going over programs for the future which we could become a part of. Your attendance will make a mark on how LCH will do ministry for our community and for the world in areas such as food programs and social justice. Please come and help us decide our priorities with our programs of care. Pupus potluck.
Game Night is on Saturday, August 23, at 6:30 pm at Stephanie Miller’s home in Kaimuki. Bring a game and a potluck dish to share.
If you have any questions, or need directions, please contact Steff through the Church Office (941-2566).
Bill Potter, Webmaster
I am happy to report progress on project mentioned in my last two Heartbeat columns:
At the same time, I have added content to a couple of pages. Information about the harpsichord and piano has been added to the page in the Music section that until now only described the two organs. With the arrival of the new lectern, I have added a picture and description of that piece as well as information about our baptismal font.
Finally, I gave two Adult Forum presentations on the LCH website in July. The third session—create your own web page—will be offered on August 3. Bring your laptop if you have one, along with some text and a digital photo for your page. If you don’t have a laptop, we will provide some loaners. Come and join the fun.
LCHers marching in the Gay Pride parade.
By Rev. Dr. Richard L. Means
I have been a college professor for 38 years, and preached as a Congregational minister for 52 years. While preaching, I have watched deacons snooze, parishioners sleep, young couples neck, and heard a multitude of babies cry. At the end of the service after one difficult Sunday, forgetting I was miked, I said clearly, “Thank God that is over!” Of course, it brought down the house.
When shaking hands at the end of the service and people say, “great sermon!”, “a wonderful message!”, etc., etc. many preachers privately call this “the Perjury line,” to keep perspective.
Fortunately, however, I have been spared the spectacle of the news media seizing upon a controversial remark I made in one of my sermons 30 or 40 years ago, and hanging a politician in my congregation with that remark. And, like many pastors, occasionally I slip and make a silly remark.
During the current presidential electioneering, the news media have seized upon controversial remarks made years ago in sermons by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Democrat Barack Obama’s former pastor, and by televangelist John C. Hagee, a supporter of Republican John McCain.
Politicians of both parties are claiming that these excerpts from Rev. Wright’s and Rev. Hagee’s sermons are damaging both Obama’s and McCain’s presidential campaigns.
Rev. Penny Lowes of Oakland Township wrote to The Detroit News recently: “I am a white female ordained minister. I am appalled to think that members of the church I serve may have to answer to my sermons should they run for public office or seek employment in certain sectors.”
I suspect that no politician could survive the statements made by their pastors in their sermons through the years, if widely publicized.
I don’t recall a politician in any of my congregations whose career was damaged by something I said in one of my sermons, probably because they were sleeping through them. But the one thing that keeps all pastors sane is a sense of humor, and we need to understand the reality of the absurd. It keeps one humble
(Rev. Dr. Richard L. Means is a Congregational minister, a professor emeritus of sociology at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, and a Joyful Noiseletter consulting editor. The photo accompanying this article is his Kalamazoo College graduation picture in 1952. He wouldn’t give Joyful Noiseletter a recent photo.)
Aloha to Don and Biz Person (left), who are moving to San Antonio, Texas, and happy 80th birthday to Marian Myers (right).
The HeartBeat folders are looking for assistance. Please let the church office know if you are able to assist with folding the September 2008 HeartBeat in the Boardroom on Wednesday, August 27, at 9:00 am. Your assistance will be appreciated.
On August 17, LCH will return
Two morning worship services
Compline at 9:00 pm.
Next Heart Beat Deadline is Tuesday, August 19!
Signs & wonders
Sign outside Presbyterian church:
“There are some questions that can’t be answered by Google.”
—via Lowell Yoder, Holland, OH
Church sign in Michigan:
“He/she who lives by the credit card dies by the credit card.”
Sign outside Morrison United Methodist Church, Leesburg, FL:
“Kindness is difficult to give away because it keeps coming back.”
Newly conceived church definitions:
—via Rev. Dr. Karl R. Kraft, Glassboro, NJ
Copyright © 2008 Lutheran Church of Honolulu
Comments welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org