The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Hymns both old & new belong together

Trinity and gender, travel, blog, evolution articles prompt reaction

Hymn heritage
Happily for those of us who still find resonance in German hymnody — the favorite hymn "Lord Christ, When First You Came to Earth" is in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (727). These hymns, which became the core of German and Scandinavian hymnals, are an important part of our Lutheran heritage. It's good to keep them, right alongside newer hymns that lend their own beauty and relevance to today's church.

Jill Schlichting
Maplewood, Minn.

Music to the ear
I'd like to thank you for the articles in the May issue on favorite hymns. Music for me is a very healing thing. I have many favorite hymns and songs. I play them when I sew. Music helps me relax and helps me look to Jesus Christ as healer and gets me through bad times.

Cecilia Oakland
Harreson, S.D.

Everything in a name
The exchange on Trinity and gender was disappointing. The Trinity is present at Jesus' baptism and not surprisingly Father, Son and Holy Spirit becomes the name in which we are commanded to baptize. There's a difference between a name and an image. How God is present and works in a variety of ways has nothing to do with God's name. I am present to and for people in a variety of ways, and I have a variety of titles, but my name remains the same. That's the purpose of having God's name.

Frank C. Senn
Evanston, Ill.

Worth a walk
Having just returned from visiting Turkey, I especially enjoyed the article by Carol Mueller. I was surprised that she dismissed Hieropolis as "great for hot mineral baths, not so much for history." That is where we visited the tomb of Philip, who was martyred, together with the octagonal church built to honor him. It was beautiful, and well worth the short walk from the theater.

Dana Rebelein
New Brighton, Minn.

Keep on blogging
I want to express appreciation for the blogs by Jayne Thompson that appear regularly in the online edition of The Lutheran. Invariably her articles are thoughtful and refreshing, touching a meaningful spiritual dimension of life in an everyday sort of way.

The Rev. Jerry J. Miller
Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Think again
The letter from a pastor who quotes a hymn ("Change upon change") that describes for him his view of the ELCA intrigues me: "Change and decay in all around I see, O thou who changest not, abide with me." I wonder if he agrees with Paul's letter to a quarreling and divided Corinthian congregation he helped found: "But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us" (2 Corinthians 4:7).

The Rev. Luverne A. Jacobson
Wilsonville, Ore.

Looking for truth
The "Change upon change" letter suggested that Christians must make a choice: unchanging truth or evolution of ideas. We strive for both. From God's perspective, there is unchanging truth. But God knows that we finite beings can't take it in, all at once, and so our understanding evolves over time. As Jesus says in John 16:12-13: "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth ...." I am grateful to belong to a church that values openness to the Spirit's teaching and tries, faithfully, to embrace that truth.

Janet L. Kittlaus
Glenview, Ill.

Extend a hand
A recent letter ("Too much to take") demonstrates the alienation many in our society feel: "the progressive agenda of an immoral national government being adopted by my church"; the small town values in which he grew up vs. urban values; the "worldly activities the Bible warns us against," and so on. What comes through is not only his alienation, but also his bitterness. Someone needs to reach out to this man who is living in a world he no longer finds acceptable, acknowledge his pain and see him as another human being trying to navigate his way in life. That is what "bearing one another's burdens to fulfill the law of Christ" is all about.

The Rev. James DeLange
San Francisco

Science and faith
As a scientist and a Lutheran, I am pleased with the faith and science presentations in The Lutheran. Keep them coming, and I'd also recommend including articles written by scientists who are also Lutheran. The piece on evolution was especially valuable and produced a voluminous amount of comment online.

Robert Buntrock
Orono, Maine

Mind the verbiage
The evolution article was humming along, living up to its own admonition that "it would do well for the religious believer to come to terms with it" (evolution) when bam! — the reader is hit with "It can also open new venues of dialogue about divine transcendence" and "divine immanence (as in the case of emergent novelty)." Who needs opaque, obscure and unexplained terms out of nowhere? I blame the editors more than the author.

Larry Speicher
Gaithersburg, Md.

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February issue


Embracing diversity