SERMON: Pentecost 16 (Sep 28)

Category: News, Sermon Tags: September 29, 2014 @ 10:57 am

The Rev. Franklin Wilson

The Rev. Franklin Wilson


Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32
Psalm 25:1-9
Philippians 2:1-13
Matthew 21:23-32


“Turn, then, and live.”
“Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.”

There’s a reason Jesus tells religious people that tax collectors and prostitutes go into the kingdom of God ahead of them: the tax collectors and prostitutes believed John the Baptist—they repented and were baptized, confessing their sins.  They turned, but the religious people did not.  They didn’t believe John, didn’t repent, and refused John’s baptism.  Religion’s a curious thing: it often exposes in itself the very sin it opposes in others.  The corollary is also true:  public sinners often display more genuine piety than religious folk who live within the bounds of decency and respectability.  It may be trite to say, but it’s nonetheless true that I hear more of God outside the homeless shelter at Grace Episcopal Church than I ever hear within the precincts of Luther Memorial or, for that matter, within Grace.   There’s something about public sin that invites personal faith; conversely, there’s something about public righteousness that stimulates personal hypocrisy.

Before joining Alcoholics Anonymous, Junior had never been in a church.  However, it must be said that, on account of alcoholic blackouts, he couldn’t honestly say for certain.  The only thing he was sure of was that he couldn’t remember having been in a church before attending AA at St. Paul’s.  But, even then, they met in the church basement, and always entered through the “red doors,” just off the parking lot on the building’s back side, about as far from the “nave” as you could get.  So while technically Junior had been in a church, he had never “been to church.”  That is to say, though he had been to Lambeau and other religious sites, he had never worshipped in a Christian liturgical space.  Good though they are, brats and beer do not a Eucharist make.

Junior attended weekly 12-step meetings at St. Paul’s as required by court order.  Not that he had to go to St. Paul’s, but he was required to participate in an AA group following prison; it was part of his parole, and the St. Paul’s meeting was nearest his apartment.  As he was prohibited from driving, St. Paul’s was easiest to reach on foot.Truth is, Junior had probably driven drunk since God was a child.  So far as he knew, he’d been born drunk and his drunken behavior was merely the working out of his DNA—his family inheritance, you might say. His father and grandfather before him had been alcoholic, as well as some uncles and an aunt.  One of his cousins, Milton, had died drunk in a car crash, killing not one, but two women into the bargain.  It was only sheer luck Junior hadn’t inflicted the same pain and suffered the same fate.It’s not like he hadn’t tried.  The fact is, he’d probably lived a harder life than, Milton, his dead cousin.  At 47 he’d run through more women, insurance policies, citations, lost jobs, junked cars, and ruined marriages than Sherman’s army burning its way to the sea.  It’s not so much that Junior’s luck ran out, as he simply spiraled down to a drunk hermit’s existence; he almost never drove anyone anywhere; least of all a woman.  When he finally hit a bridge abutment at two in the morning on his way home from the bar, there was no one around but the State Patrol to document his near demise:  driving without a license, with no insurance, no sobriety, and no seatbelt.  His only companions were an empty bottle of Jim Beam and a crushed carton of Camel studs.  Of all the car crash cost him (including three years of freedom), he most lamented the lost Camels.

Prison’s certainly no picnic.  But, if you manage to keep your nose clean, tend to business, and fly beneath the radar of inmate violence and guard retaliation, you can make a decent life out of an intolerably indecent situation.  And Junior did: his small job in the kitchen enabled him to buy cigarettes, and that was about all he either wanted or needed.   He had no one to write to, so paper, envelopes, and stamps were of no value; and he’d never seen the purpose of toiletries beyond a toothbrush.  Shampoo and soap he thought silly, to say nothing of deodorant.

Junior wasn’t dumb.  He saw instinctively that cooperation with authority was his ticket out.  And so he cooperated: he did his job, joined a twelve step group, volunteered in the chapel, and even began going to Bible study.  He hated it.  But the more he hated it, the more he pretended to love it.  The chaplain was an easy mark—well meant, but readily taken in by sentiment, pretentious weakness, and emotional manipulation—the kind of stuff Junior lived, breathed, and thrived on.  Junior did his three, and was paroled early for good behavior.

That’s when St. Paul’s entered the picture.   He’d gone to meetings for nearly a year when, one night, the group took a smoke break and, after cigarettes and conversation in the parking lot, they couldn’t get back in.  The door had locked behind them.  Junior volunteered to walk round to the office door and ring the bell.  After a while, a rumpled woman in a pink clergy shirt, jeans, and Birkenstocks came to the door.  She listened to Junior’s story while they walked through the building and downstairs to unlock the door.  She asked him to come back the next day and check out a key in case it ever happened again.  The next day, he went, got the key, and saw a sign saying “Sunday service, 11:00.  Coffee following.”  He asked the woman what that was about.  Her name was Roberta, and she told him in a way he found strangely moving.

It was the first time anyone had ever said anything like that to him, and it played on his mind:  “Our church needs you.  You should come.  You would be good for us.”  The words stuck in his mind and would not leave.  They addressed him over, and over again:  “Our church needs you.  You should come.  You would be good for us.”  He didn’t go that Sunday; but, the following one, he did.  It was there he heard a sentence he couldn’t forget.  It said, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.”  He also heard, “Turn, then, and live.”  Never having been there before, Junior returned—he lived.  Roberta had been right.  It was good for them.  But they didn’t like it.  Being last, Junior got there first—ahead of them.  There’s nothing worse for self-righteous religion than sinners who truly repent: Jonah all over again.  The public sinners are going in ahead of us.  But, then, it may be a greater gift that we’re getting in at all!

Weekly News: Sep 28-Oct 5

Category: News, Weekly Tags: September 26, 2014 @ 10:00 am


GAME NIGHT: FRIDAY, SEP 26 Gather in the Great Room for another evening of fun for all ages on Friday, Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m. Bring your favorite games and a snack to share!

Thank you, volunteers!

road-home-2014Thank you to all who volunteered for The Road Home Sep. 14–21. A special thanks to Dale Lavelle and Larry Thies for their leadership and commitment to this vital community program. Please mark your calendar for the next LM hosting of The Road Home: Nov. 16–23.


Ezekiel 18:1–4, 25–32
Psalm 25:1–9
Philippians 2:1–13
Matthew 21:23–32


Annika Jasti, daughter of Jini & Murali Jasti, will be baptized this Sunday during the 8 am service.

New members received

We welcome new members during Holy Communion this Sunday at the 10:30 service.


All are welcome for night prayer this Sunday, Sept. 28 at 9 pm. Come listen to the LM chant choir and reflect during this brief meditative service. Compline will also be held on Oct. 12 and Oct. 28.

NEW TIME! Women’s Study at 6:30 pm

Throughout the history of Christian spirituality women played a prominent role. Join Nancy Raabe as we read and discuss the writings of prominent women mystics. Readings are available at the welcome desk. Sundays at 6:30 pm in the Luther Room (Sept. 28;  Oct. 5, 26;  Nov. 2, 9). Come early for evening prayer at 6:20 pm.

Women’s Retreat: Oct. 3-4

LM women will be on an overnight retreat at Holy Wisdom Monastery Friday, Oct. 3–Saturday, Oct. 4. The Rev. Marsha Swenson will lead discussion on “Faith & the Me Filter.” To learn more, contact Phyllis Pleuss at 827-5698 or

Fall Pig Roast: Sunday, Oct. 12

Sunday, Oct. 12
11:45 am
Great Room
Please come to an all-church BBQ on Sunday, Oct. 12, down in the Great Room. Uphoff pork is the best around! Proceeds support LM Preschool and El Salvador mission.

CROP Walk: Sunday, Oct. 19

The 2014 CROP Walk & Bike Hike for Hunger will be Sunday, Oct. 19, with one- and three-mile walk routes through the university area. CROP is the hunger-action arm of Church World Service, and for many years has provided financial help for hungry people both locally in Dane County and worldwide. To participate or make a donation, see John Ruppenthal or Carl Anderson in the narthex, or donate online at

Men’s Retreat: Nov. 7–9

The 2014 LM Men’s Retreat is November 7–9 at the St. Anthony Retreat Center in Marathon, Wis. This year’s retreat is on the “Life and Writings of C. S. Lewis.” Sign up sheet at the welcome desk by Oct. 26. Questions? See Pastor Pohlman.

Fall theater outing: Friday, Nov. 28
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

LM tickets are still available for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical at the Overture Center—Friday matinee, Thanksgiving weekend. Special rate: $45/seat, 3rd row of the circle. Children must be 6 years old. To reserve your tickets, sign up at the welcome desk or email Bob Steffen ( or Suelyn Swiggum (  by Oct. 1. A few tickets have been generously donated and are available at reduced cost ($10); please contact Suelyn if interested.

Seeking Sunday School teachers and assistants

The Sunday School is looking for an assistant for the youngest class (ages 3–4) to help out every other week. Great work for a teen or adult who loves children! We are also looking for 1–2 teachers to teach older students (grades 3–4 or grades 5–6) every other week. Easy to access online curriculum provided. See Amy Grunewald Mattison or email at

Pastoral care

When in need of pastoral care, please call or email the church office (258-3160 or In case of emergency or on weekends and evenings, please contact the pastors at home:
Pastor Franklin Wilson…..204-9268
Pastor Brad Pohlman………444-7604
Copyright © 2014 Luther Memorial Church, All rights reserved.

Sept. 28, 2014

Sunday Forum

9:15 am | Great Room

This week: Hymns of Martin Luther
Led by LM member Nancy Raabe

Next week: Master Planning Preview
Vince Micha, architect with Kubala Washatko, will talk about past and current renovation projects, including Luther Memorial and other Madison buildings.

This week

Sunday, Sept. 28
8 am Holy Communion
Sacrament of Holy Baptism
9:15 am Sunday Forum (Great Room)
Sunday School (3rd Floor)
10:30 am Holy Communion
New Members Received
4:15 pm Children’s Choir (Choir Rm)
4:15 pm Training Choir (3rd Floor)
5 pm Youth Choir (Choir Room)
6 pm Confirmation (Great Room)
6:30 pm Women’s Study (Luther Room)
7:30 pm Compline Rehearsal (Nave)
9 pm Compline

Monday, Sept. 29
9 am Morning Prayer (Nave)

Tuesday, Sept. 30
9 am Morning Prayer (Nave)

Wednesday, Oct. 1
9 am Morning Prayer (Nave)
10:45 am Bible Study (Luther Room)
12 pm Organ Recital
7:30 pm Bell Choir (Choir Room)

Thursday, Oct. 2
9 am Morning Prayer (Nave)
5:30 pm Recorder Ensemble (Choir Room)
7 pm Adult Choir (Choir Room)

Friday, Oct. 3
Women’s Retreat (Oct. 3–4)
9 am Morning Prayer (Nave)

Sunday, Oct. 5
8 am Holy Communion
9:15 am Sunday Forum (Great Room)
Sunday School (3rd Floor)
10:30 am Holy Communion
4:15 pm Children’s Choir (Choir Rm)
4:15 pm Training Choir (3rd Floor)
5 pm Youth Choir (Choir Room)
6 pm Confirmation (Great Room)
6:30 pm Women’s Study (Luther Room)

Upcoming Events

This Fall

Women’s Retreat: Oct. 3–4
Fall Pig Roast: Sunday, Oct. 12
Compline: Sunday, Oct. 12, 9 pm
Confirmation Retreat: Oct. 17–18
Food & Fellowship: Sunday, Oct. 26 (The Vintage)
Senior Day at Oakwood Village West: Monday, Oct. 27, 10 am
Compline: Sunday, Oct. 28, 9 pm
New-to-Luther Orientation: Saturday, Nov. 1, 9 am
All Saints Sunday Choral Evening Prayer: Sunday, Nov. 2, 5 pm
Men’s Retreat: Saturday, Nov. 7–9
The Road Home: Nov. 16–23
“Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” Outing: Friday, Nov. 28, 2 pm

Women’s Study: Sundays at 6:30

Category: News Tags: August 22, 2014 @ 9:00 am

Women Mystics Ancient and Modern
Sundays: 6:30 pm (Luther Room)
Module 1: Sept. 21, 28, Oct. 5
Module 2: Oct. 26, Nov. 2, 9

Nancy Raabe

Nancy Raabe

Throughout the history of the church, women played a prominent role, from the 4th- and 5th-century ascetics living in desert communities to social activists of our era. Who were these women, how did they speak about God, and what was their hope for humanity? Join Nancy Raabe as we read and discuss the writings of prominent women mystics, from the ancient Desert Mothers through Hildegard of Bingen (12th century), Julian of Norwich (14th century), Therese of Lisieux (late 19th century), Evelyn Underhill (20th century) and Dorothy Day (20th century). Readings are available at the welcome desk.

Senior Day at Oakwood Village West: Oct 27

Category: News Tags: August 21, 2014 @ 9:00 am

Celebrate fall with friends and family at Oakwood Village West on Monday, Oct. 27, 10 am–1 pm, with worship in the Resurrection Chapel, followed by lunch ($9) and a program in the Nakoma/Westmoreland rooms. Let us know if you need transportation or a special menu. RSVP by Tuesday, Oct. 21 at the welcome desk or to Suelyn Swiggum (258-3160 or

New-to-Luther: Nov 1

Category: News Tags: August 20, 2014 @ 9:00 am

New-to-Luther orientation & refresher

Saturday, Nov. 1
9 am–2 pm
New members and those who are interested in refreshing their connection to Luther Memorial are welcome to attend. Enjoy a theological tour, music in the balcony, lunch with friends and ministry highlights.


Please sign up at the welcome desk on Sundays or speak with Suelyn Swiggum, director of shared ministry, at 258-3160 or

Game night: Sept 26

Category: News Tags: August 6, 2014 @ 9:00 am

Luther Memorial Church - Game Night

Gather in the Great Room for another evening of fun for all ages on Friday, Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m. Bring your favorite games and a snack to share!

How much fun is Game Night at Luther Memorial? See for yourself!

New members received: Sept 28

Category: News Tags: August 5, 2014 @ 9:00 am

New members will be received during Holy Communion on Sunday, Sept. 28. Stop by the welcome desk to register, or contact Suelyn Swiggum (, 258-3160 ext 15) to learn more.

Young families brunch: Sept 13

Category: News Tags: August 4, 2014 @ 8:00 am

Come for a morning of conversation and play on Saturday, Sept 13 at 9:30 am in the Great Room. We’ll enjoy brunch, then let the children play with toys from the preschool. Please bring an egg dish, fruit, breakfast pastry or juice to share. Learn more at the welcome desk or contact Kirsten Heggeseth (

The Road Home: Sept 14-21

Category: News Tags: @ 7:00 am

Dale Lavelle and Larry Thies

Dale Lavelle & Larry Thies, coordinators for The Road Home at Luther Memorial Church

Luther Memorial will host homeless families through The Road Home of Dane County during the week of Sept. 14-21.

Sign up in the narthex for the following volunteer opportunities:

  • set up/tear down
  • meal preparation
  • kitchen anchor
  • evening host
  • activity host
  • overnight host
  • breakfast host

We thank all those who have committed their time to this outreach ministry and continue to do so. New volunteers are welcome to try this ministry and experience the feeling of providing this very important service to families who are in need of support at this challenging time in their lives.


BEFORE Sept 14: Contact Dale Lavelle (274-1228, or Larry Thies (845-9267, with questions.

AFTER Sept 14: Please contact Phyllis Pleuss at 827-5698 or to find out how you can help.

Ice cream social: Aug 10

Category: News Tags: June 16, 2014 @ 9:00 am

All are invited to an ice cream social at Oakwood Village West on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2–3:30 p.m. Luther Memorial hosts this hospitality event for all the residents of Oakwood Village.