News

SERMON: Pentecost 7 (July 27)

Category: News, Sermon Tags: July 28, 2014 @ 9:57 am

The Rev. Franklin Wilson

The Rev. Franklin Wilson

Readings

1 Kings 3.5-12
Psalm 105:1-11
Romans 8:26-39
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Text

“Give your servant an understanding mind….”
“The Spirit helps us in our weakness.”
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

In her posthumously published Prayer Journal, Flannery O’Connor writes, “My dear God, how stupid we people are until You give us something. Even in praying it is You who have to pray in us.” Even as a young woman, O’Connor sensed that the Lord prays in and for us.

At a recent gathering of local pastors, one of my colleagues noted a disjunction between ways in which the national church records parish data and ways in which local congregations actually experience the church such data are meant to record. The pastor said, “We simply don’t have an appropriate metric for information we need to convey.” We don’t have an appropriate metric, an appropriate measure, an apt quantifier, a numeric means to express the church.

We clergy come late to parties. Just when the rest of western culture has begun to show signs of suspicion regarding omniscient claims for quantification, the numeric expression of meaning, clergy grow smitten with the idea of a metric to quantify the poetic, to measure metaphor by number. As Joseph Stalin apparently observed: “Quantity has a quality all its own;” quantity’s quality seduces. Bigger trumps smaller, a larger church outshines a smaller one. How much church do we need? One pound? Two meters? Four light-years? Perhaps 3, 7, 12, or, maybe, 666 ecclesial cubits? I suspect that at the heart of a tendency to quantify the church lurks a bias such as, well, God is, you know, “BIG.” “God is really BIG.” Therefore, the church must be big too, and the bigger the better.

Then cometh the mustard seed. Why does Jesus choose a mustard seed to illustrate the kingdom of heaven? Mustard seeds are small, unimpressive, and plain. Jesus says they’re the smallest of all seeds. How small? He doesn’t provide a botanic metric. Jesus is not a botanist; he intends more than science, more than quantified meaning. He means that, in eternity, small will trump big.

Mustard seeds are small—whether smallest of all is of no matter. What matters to Jesus is that, though small, a mustard seed, nonetheless, grows to become a large and useful shrub—a bush providing shelter for birds. Hence, the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a small thing which grows into something sufficient to provide protection for other small things, like birds, babies and all death-plagued creatures.

No matter how you cut it, Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to a small thing helpful to other little things of apparently meager import. Even the largest bird is small compared to a fighter jet, a military transport, or even a Malaysian airliner. Oddly, at 33,000 feet, it may have been easier to bring down a Malaysian airliner with a surface to air missile, than, even the largest of birds. Smaller things generally have greater capacity to hide.

Be that as it tragically may be, the fact remains that Jesus does not offer impressive statistics to illustrate the kingdom of heaven, but rather something tiny: the homely little mustard seed. In a world of terrible power, amid cultures of imperial strength and clashing world views, the Lord’s reign is unimpressive, puny, and short-lived. Most of the empires of imperial history (the Roman, the British, the Vedic, the Ming, the Ottoman, the Ptolemaic, the Silla, the Ethiopian, the Incan) managed to survive several decades, and some for several centuries. Yet a mustard shrub lives but a brief time and is gone. As compared to a phenomenon like the Roman Empire, a mustard seed is weak—next to nothing—like the kingdom of heaven. Yet “next to nothing” may be more than all our earthly powers combined.

St. Paul says, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” The Spirit helps us not in our strength, but in our weakness. Paul’s little dictum is at home with tiny things, birds, and babies like Johanna; dismissed by the grand and glorious, Paul’s insight is treasured by the least, the little, and the last.

Of course, we can hardly expect the powers of earth to find solace in a spirit of weakness, a teaching that locates greatest hope in deepest weakness, an ethic that acts not on a wealth of strength, but on a poverty of weakness. That would be like asking the bank to loan us money according to our inability to pay it back; like the Packers drafting players based on their disability, inexperience, and lack of winning; it would be like hiring chief executives and generals not according to their superior knowledge, financial clout, and successful track record, but on account of their extensive and repeated failures. How long would Badger Nation praise Coach Anderson if instead of recruiting the biggest, the fastest, and the most decorated, he recruited the smallest, the slowest, and the unrecognized?

Badgers and Packers aside, the kingdom of heaven is alien not only to football, but to all other human endeavors as well. The Spirit helps us in our weakness precisely because in our weakness the Spirit can help us. In our strength, success, and power, we have no awareness of the Spirit, but only of our own spirits. We ourselves are the biggest impediment to God’s Spirit, not because we are stronger than the Spirit, but because we think we are. Unlike Solomon, we refuse to ask for understanding because we think we already possess it; and, clearly, if we think we understand God, we don’t.

“We do not know how to pray as we ought,” precisely because when we are powerful (or think we are), we have no need of proper prayer, no awareness of our need of God, no insight into our total dependence, no proper sense of limit, loss, and liability—liability not merely to civil and criminal courts, but liability to eternal judgment. Awareness of the Lord’s judgment gives desire for the Lord’s grace. Awareness of our weakness reveals our need of Christ. Christ is our strength in weakness before the very God who made us; the One who can erase us with a word; who, amid death and decay, gives us life and hope through the death and resurrection of Christ—the grace to confess and believe. And what is faith? Little more than a drop of water on a tiny child; a mustard seed—not even that—and yet more than enough; more than all, until the Lord gives us something—even something small. Thanks be to God.

Weekly News: July 27-Aug 3

Category: News, Weekly Tags: July 25, 2014 @ 9:00 am

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Luther Memorial Church Bike Ride

Bike trip to Verona

Sunday, July 27
2 pm

Get in gear for a bicycle outing to Culver’s in Verona with Bruce Bengtson. Be ready to ride from Luther Memorial at 2 pm, or join us along the Southwest Commuter trail. Riders will need a state trail pass ($20/year; $4/day). Learn more about state trail passes at dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/trailpass.

Readings

1 Kings 3:5-12
Psalm 119:129-136
Romans 8:26-39
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Baptism

Baptized this Sunday is Johanna Christine Erikson-Hardy, daughter of Randall Hardy & Deneille Erikson.

THIS SUNDAY! Worship assistant training

Meet in the nave after the 10:30 service for a worship assistant training session with Pastor Brad and Judy Braham.

Summer choir: Sundays at 9:30 am

All are welcome to sing with the summer choir. Rehearsals are Sunday mornings at 9:30 am.

Appalachia Service Project update

Construction is underway on the room addition for Tim and Shannon’s daughter in West Virginia. Generous donors from Luther Memorial provided half the funds needed to make a difference in this family’s life. Thanks to all who supported this outreach project!

Food & Fellowship: Saturday, Aug. 2

July’s Food & Fellowship gathering is sliding into August. Please meet us on Saturday, Aug. 2 at KJs Curry Bowl at 7005 Tree Lane (across from Memorial High School) at 6 pm. KJs is one of the few restaurants in America to specialize in dishes from Sri Lanka. Contact Phyllis Pleuss at 827-5698 or jpleuss@charter.net by Thursday, July 31 if you plan to attend.

Men’s Group: Tuesday, Aug. 5

The LM Men’s Group will be meeting, Tuesday, August 5 at 7 pm in the Fireside Room and will continue reading chapters 3 and 4 of the book of Jonah.

Ice Cream Social at Oakwood Village West: Sunday, Aug. 10

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

Senior Day at Oakwood Village West: Monday, Aug. 25

Celebrate summer with friends and family at Oakwood Village West on Monday, Aug. 25, 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, Aug. 19 at the welcome desk or to Suelyn Swiggum (258-3160 or swiggum@luthermem.org).

The Road Home: Sept. 14-21

Luther Memorial will host homeless families through The Road Home of Dane County during the week of Sept. 14-21. Volunteers are needed to donate food for meals and volunteer to set up and clean up the classrooms, cook meals, play with children, do laundry, and stay overnight as hosts. Save the date to be a part of this outreach ministry.

Save the date:  Women’s Retreat

The Women’s Retreat will be Oct. 3-4, 2014, at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Madison, led by the Rev. Marsha Swenson, a member of Luther Memorial. Questions? Contact Phyllis Pleuss at 827-5698 or jpleuss@charter.net.

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

We’ve reserved 30 tickets to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical at the Overture Center – Friday matinee, Thanksgiving weekend. Tickets are $45 each. Children must be at least 6 years old. First come, first served. To reserve your tickets, sign up at the welcome desk or email Bob Steffen (rsteffen@wisc.edu) or Suelyn Swiggum (swiggum@luthermem.org). A few tickets have been generously donated and are available at reduced cost ($10); please contact Suelyn if interested.

Preschool enrolling for fall

If you have a child ready for  preschool this fall, Luther Memorial Preschool provides a wonderful experience for children ages 2-5 years, taught by friendly and talented teachers. Learn more at www.luthermem.org/preschool or contact Suzanne Du Chateau at 258-3168 or duchateau@luthermem.org.

Letter from Bishop Eaton on Gaza offensive

Shortly after Israel launched its ground offensive in Gaza, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton was in contact with Presiding Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, who asks for our prayers. A letter from Bishop Eaton to ELCA congregations is available at the welcome desk.

Pastoral care

When in need of pastoral care, please call or email the church office (258-3160 or office@luthermem.org). 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

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July 20, 2014

Adult Forum
Adult Forums resume Sunday, Sept. 7.

This week

Sunday, July 27
8 am Holy Communion
9:30 am Summer Choir Rehearsal
10:30 am Holy Communion
Sacrament of Holy Baptism
2 pm Bike Trip to Verona

Monday, July 28
9 am Morning Prayer (Nave)

Tuesday, July 29
9 am Morning Prayer (Nave)
6:30 pm Ushers Meeting (Nave)

Wednesday, July 30
9 am Morning Prayer (Nave)
10:45 am Bible Study (Luther Room)

Thursday, July 31
9 am Morning Prayer (Nave)
7 pm Sunday School Teachers (Luther Room)

Friday, August 1
9 am Morning Prayer (Nave)

Saturday, August 2
2 pm Cooney-Stauber Wedding

Sunday, August 3
8 am Holy Communion
9:30 am Summer Choir Rehearsal
10:30 am Holy Communion

Upcoming Events

August
Food & Fellowship: Saturday, Aug. 2 (KJs Curry Bowl)
Oakwood Ice Cream Social: Sunday, Aug. 10
Senior Day at Oakwood Village West: Monday, Aug. 25

This Fall
Homecoming Sunday: Sunday, Sept. 7
Special Congregational Meeting: Sunday, Sept. 14, 9:15 am
The Road Home: Sept. 14-21
Women’s Retreat: Oct. 3-4
Pig Roast & Ministry Fair: Sunday, Oct. 12
Confirmation Retreat: Oct. 17-18
Food & Fellowship: Sunday, Oct. 26 (The Vintage)
Men’s Retreat: Nov. 7-9
The Road Home: Nov. 16-23
“Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” Outing: Friday, Nov. 28, 2 pm

Mark your calendar!

Fall classes

All regular classes begin Sunday, Sept. 7! Contact Pastor Brad Pohlman at pohlman@luthermem.org to learn more.

Sunday School
Ages: 3 years – grade 6
Sundays 9:15 – 10:15 am
(Education wing, 3rd floor)

Confirmation
Ages: grades 7-9
Sundays: 6 – 7:45 pm
(Great Room, Library)

NEW! Women’s Study
Sunday evenings
Sept. 21, 28;  Oct. 5, 26;  Nov. 2, 9

Adult Forum
Sundays: 9:15 am (Great Room)

Nursery care for ages 0-4 will be available Sundays 10 am-noon.

Fall music

Rehearsals begin soon! Contact Bruce Bengtson at bengtson@luthermem.org to learn more.
Noon Organ Recitals
Wednesday, Sept. 3

Recorder Ensemble
Thursday, Sept. 4, 5:30 pm

Adult Choir
Thursday, Sept. 4, 7 pm

Bell Choir
Wednesday, Sept. 10, 7:30 pm

Training Choir
Sunday, Sept. 7, 4:15 pm

Children’s Choir
Sunday, Sept. 7, 4:15 pm

Youth Choir
Sunday, Sept. 7, 5 pm

Compline
Sunday, Sept. 7, 9 pm

Food & Fellowship: Aug 2

Category: News Tags: July 24, 2014 @ 9:00 am

July’s Food & Fellowship gathering is sliding into August. Please meet us on Saturday, Aug. 2 at KJs Curry Bowl at 7005 Tree Lane (across from Memorial High School) [Google map] at 6 pm. KJs is one of the few restaurants in America to specialize in dishes from Sri Lanka. Contact Phyllis Pleuss at 827-5698 or jpleuss@charter.net by Thursday, July 31 if you plan to attend.

Ice cream social: Aug 10

Category: News Tags: June 18, 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.

Senior Day at Oakwood Village West: Aug 25

Category: News Tags: June 17, 2014 @ 9:00 am

Celebrate summer with friends and family at Oakwood Village West on Monday, Aug 25, 10 a.m.–1 p.m., 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, Aug 19 at the welcome desk or to Suelyn Swiggum (258-3160 or swiggum@luthermem.org).

Letter from Jamie Stark, missionary in El Salvador

Category: News Tags: June 16, 2014 @ 12:30 pm

Learn more

Letter from Jamie Stark pdf (June 2014)

Check out his blog on living faith in a contrasting culture.
Jamie’s blog: onegringo.com

Jamie Stark - El Salvador Missionary


Jamie Stark: Missionary in El Salvador

How can you support Jamie’s mission work?

pope

The Lutheran Bishop of Jordan and Israel gives one of Christian Chavarria’s crosses as the Lutheran World Federation’s gift of welcoming upon the installation of Pope Francis to his new post in Rome.

chavarria

Christian Chavarría sketches out his Salvadoran sunset cross designs in his workshop above the temporary home of the main Salvadoran Lutheran Church.

Bike trip to Verona: July 27

Category: News Tags: @ 9:00 am

Luther Memorial Church Bike RideGet in gear for a bicycle outing to Culver’s in Verona with Music Director Bruce Bengtson on Sunday, July 27. Bruce will lead the group in this fun event for all ages. Be ready to ride from Luther Memorial at 2 pm, or join us along the Southwest Commuter trail.

Riders will need a state trail pass, available at DNR service centers, state park and forest entrances, and at some businesses near state trails. Passes are $20/season or $4/day. Learn more about state trail passes at dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/trailpass.html.

Sunday School quilt dedication: June 8

Category: News Tags: May 31, 2014 @ 9:00 am

The Sunday School quilt, created with love by many hands, including Sunday School students, teachers and volunteers, will be dedicated on Sunday, June 8 at 9:15 am in the concourse, with refreshments.

Young families brunch: June 7

Category: News Tags: May 28, 2014 @ 9:00 am

Come for a morning of conversation and play on Saturday, June 7 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 (kheggeseth@gmail.com).

Prayer shawls for high school seniors: June 8

Category: News Tags: May 27, 2014 @ 9:00 am

Hand-knitted prayer shawls will be blessed and presented to our high school seniors on Sunday, June 8: Sam Hart, Nicolette Krantz, Darby Lemkuil, Sam Marten, Annika Pohlman, Joe Ryther Clark, Eric Swanson and Madison Tomony.