The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Book of Faith raises questions

For the past few weeks the Bible studies at Midland [Texas] Lutheran Church have been looking at and talking about the ELCA Church Council proposition adopted at the 2007 Churchwide Assembly -- Book of Faith: Lutherans Read the Bible. In the course of our discussion one word kept coming up again and again.

The word was "authority." And try as we might, we were never quite able to get a handle on its meaning. At least, not as far as the Bible goes. Somehow we were never able -- or willing to -- get much past the sense of "control" or "power."

Well, that discussion stayed with me. And it began to resonate with another discussion. One that arose among the first disciples. "Who [or what] among them was to be regarded as the greatest?"

You remember the story .... After a request by two of the disciples to rule with him in his kingdom, "Jesus called [the disciples] to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority [my emphasis] over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave' " (Matthew 20:25-27).

As I reread those words, I wondered if what was true of "rulers" and "great men" might not also be true of Scripture. Instead of "lording it over" and "exercising authority" by chapter and verse, what if the Bible was more ... well, more Christ-like? Coming not to be served -- but to serve. Giving its life a ransom for many ... for all ....

What if Scripture speaks not from wind or earthquake or fire but from the sound of sheer silence? What if the Bible, like Jesus, kneels before us and washes our feet? What if its authority is rooted not in its dominance but in its sacrifice and in its suffering? What would happen if we allowed the Bible not just to preach but to practice as well ... doing justice? Loving kindness? And above all, walking humbly?

Check out this week's articles:

cover2Beyond 'Borning Cry,' another 1,000 songs: (right) An interview with Lutheran composer John Ylvisaker.

Smiles heal: Daughter's death leads mom to service.

Artist finds her niche: In retirement, quilter finds success in creating wall hangings.

A night at the opera: Could it tell the Christmas story?

Also: Top story lineup for the months ahead.

Also: Augsburg Fortress retools, shuts stores & assembly exhibits.

Also: What does Luther's trash mean?

Discuss hymns and such

YlvisakerToday through Dec. 9: Join John Ylvisaker (right), author of the hymn "I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry," to discuss music.

Ylvisaker has posted this question for readers:

"Complaint or compliment? It has been suggested that the reason folks 'hate' my music is because it makes them cry. Most Lutherans prefer to stay in the safety of their heads. I believe music is the heartbeat of God. What do you think?"

Consider reading "Beyond Borning Cry, another 1,000 songs" before joining in.

Join the discussion ...


Tell us: Giving during hard times

How are you (as a congregation, synod or individual) keeping a generous heart during the current economic downturn? Have you taken any interesting or unusual steps related to giving? Send 300 words or less by Dec. 5 (include your name, congregation, city and state) via e-mail or to Elizabeth Hunter, The Lutheran, 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631.

Or respond online …

This week on our blog:sonia

Sonia Solomonson (right) blogs about giving thanks.

Amber Leberman blogs about "computer bedtime."

Andrea Pohlmann blogs about the economy and gift-giving.


Check out our staff blog ...

The December issue of The Little Lutheran has arrived!

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The Little Lutheran helps children 6 and younger learn about God's love for them and the world in which they live. It teaches them about Jesus, their friend and savior.

Adults, you will want this for the children in your life. Pastors and congregations, you will want this for education and evangelism. See how you can subscribe for nearly half the price.

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February issue


Embracing diversity