Usually I post links to several articles that I've found online which I have found interesting and practical to the ministry we are called to do here in the Greenwood / Longwood area. I'll continue to do that, but this week, I'm posting a link to a website, Living Lutheran.
I find it to be an online compliment to The Lutheran, which is also online and can be read online with your subscription. But Living Lutheran has a variety of articles on a variety of topics. Some are about what is going on around the world or across the country. Some are about what individual churches and individuals are doing. There is a mix of news, ideas and information. It is a source of good ideas and information, and I regularly use it for ideas.
I'm going to post a permanent link to Living Lutheran on our Parish News page. I encourage you to check it out.
Some of the interesting articles I found this week on the web and wanted to share.
Some have already been shared at Our Savior's and Emmanuel's Facebook pages.
From Relevant Magazine - Five Practices We Need Back In Our Lives
A list of things that we need to do more often.
I'm finding that silence is helpful for me, turning off the noise of TV, radio, music, etc., to better listen.
From Micha Murray - Why My Boys Wore Spider-Man Costumes to Church Today
The beauty of accepting people (kids, grown-ups or those of us somewhere in between) as they are, and realizing that God has accepted us as we are, and we don't need to dress up for God. So why do we feel the need to do it for others.
Personally, I'll be dressing WAY DOWN for services in May, but that's another matter.
Also from Relevant Magazine - We're Called to Make Disciples, Not Converts
If you read this before worship services on Sunday, April 26th, you might hear this as part of my sermon. If not this Sunday, sometime soon.
Now the previous article, and my summary, says that God loves us just as we are. But that doesn't mean God wants us to stay that way. Jesus' Great Commission was to "make disciples" not members.
This is a version of my sermon from April 19. It's a combination of what I said and wanted to say at both Our Savior's and Emmanuel. It is based upon Acts 1:1-14. It is from the first week of our Spring/Summer series going through the book of Acts.
One of my favorite movies is the Blues Brothers. This comedy is crude at times, and features some of best car crashes in cinematic history. But at its heart, it is about two musicians who drop everything because they are on a mission from God – or so they believe.
Elwood picks up his brother Jake when Jake gets out of prison. They go to the orphanage where they were raised and find out that the orphanage is going to be closed because it is behind on it’s tax bill. When they visit a church, Jake sees a vision that they have to reunite their band to play a concert to pay tax bill on orphanage.
They go to recruit their old band mates, all of whom have better jobs and have moved on. Jake and Elwood use two quotes to convince their band mates to come back, “We’re putting the band back together,” and “We’re on a mission from God.”
They draw all kinds of people into their plan by telling them, “We’re on a mission from God.” They convinced people of the importance of what they were doing. And after several car chases and the destruction of a lot of property, they are able to pay off the tax bill.
I’m not sure which group is more unlikely to be called to be on a mission from God, Jake and Elwood, or the group who is assembled in the Upper Room at the end of today’s reading.
Today we start a thirteen week series going through the book, the Acts of the Apostles. Acts is a sequel, or follow up to Luke’s Gospel, tells the story of the Disciples after Jesus ascends to the Father. It tells the stories and struggles of how they started the Early Church.
It begins with Luke’s introduction to his audience Theophilus, which means God lover – so, like Luke’s Gospel, it is dedicated to everyone who loves God. So this book is written just for you, all of you. Luke says that his first book was about all Jesus did and taught. This book is about what happened after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.
Jesus is speaking to his disciples forty days after he was raised, and he tells them to stay in Jerusalem. Not many days from now, they will receive the Holy Spirit.
His disciples want to know when he’s coming back; Jesus them no one knows, but until then, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; & you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, & to the ends of the earth.
With that, Jesus ascends into the sky. Soon two men in white appear to ask why they still stand there. Jesus ascended and will descend in the same way. With that, the disciples go back to Jerusalem, to the upper room, presumably to the same room where they had the Last Supper with Christ. To the same room where Jesus appeared to them after his death.
All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers. The disciples are joined by Jesus’ family, his mother and brothers, and certain women (whom we assume were those who went tomb). All of them are waiting for the promised Holy Spirit to come to them.
All of those who Jesus told to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit, all of those whom he commanded to be his witnesses to the world, all of them had rejected him. The eleven disciples denied and abandoned him. His family, mother and brothers, came to take him home because they thought he was crazy. But it is to them that Christ trusts his legacy. To them, he give the mission to be his witnesses.
And they go to wait and pray.
I think it is important for us to spend time in book of Acts now. I think it is important for us think about the mission of the church. I think this is a critical time for our churches and for The Church. I think we can learn from what the Disciples did to be witnesses to the end of the earth.
We are familiar with what and who witnesses are from legal proceedings. Witnesses tell what happened. They share their experiences so that others can understand, and use that knowledge to take action.
To be witnesses, they basically did three things.
They helped those who needed help. They provided for the widows and orphans. They healed and helped those who were sick. They embraced those who were pushed away to the margins of society.
They taught people about Jesus, who he was and what he did. They told about how he was the expression of God’s love to everyone.
They prayed. They were always asking what God wanted them to do, and for the strength and courage to do it. Some prayed as they faced martyrdom. Some prayed about where to go to spread the Good News. Some prayed about how and whom to bring into this growing community.
They helped. They taught. They prayed.
That was at the core of all of the Acts of the Apostles.
With those three things; helping, teaching and praying, they went about being witnesses to the end of the earth.
I don’t think that is too much to ask of us, the heirs of that commission; to help, to teach and to pray. I believe that as we think about how we can be witnesses in Greenwood and Longwood, in all of this area & to ends of earth, we need to start with those three actions.
We need to help those who need help.
We need to teach about how we feel God’s love and what it means to us.
We need to pray to do God’s will and for the strength to do what God wants us to do.
Sometimes, I don’t know if we understand the importance of what we as followers of Christ, as the modern day disciples, are called to do.
God’s love, forgiveness and grace are a gift freely given. They are not earned by what we do or don’t do. They are not lost by what we do or don’t do. They are given to us because God loves us.
But this limitless gift of love needs to be given away. We won’t run out of God’s love if we give it and share it with others.
Those people who don’t know, or don’t understand that God loves them, or who don’t believe that God can love them, need to be told and shown that they are beloved by God. They need to be helped. They need to be taught. They need to be prayed for.
It is a time for action. God needs witnesses in Greenwood and Longwood, in this area, and to the ends of the earth.
And we’re just the ones to do it.
It’s time to be witnesses; to tell of God’s love and to share it with those who need it.
We’re putting the band back together.
We’re on a mission from God. AMEN.
Here are some interesting articles that I've come across this week and would like to share.
From the Huffington Post Oprah Network - Seven Things NO Grieving Person Wants to Hear
There are no right things to say to someone after a loved one has died. There are no wonderful words that can provide comfort. But there are some things NOT to say. This article has several of them.
From On Faith - Bible Verses We Need to Stop Misusing
Proof texting is pulling out a passage, a verse or two, to prove your point. Often it ignores the context of the larger passage, or is used in a way that has no bearing to its setting.
From Millennial Pastor - Church according to Friends
An interesting look at how people related to the show Friends, and how the church isn't welcoming to those types of people.
From Congregational Consulting - Can Small Congregations Change?
A look at issues facing smaller congregations and the internal struggles they have to address them.
Back in February, I issued a little challenge.
I said that if the people of Our Savior's and Emmanuel donated over $1,000 to Walk4Water, a cause being supported by the ELCA's National Youth Gathering, that I would buy and wear a Packers jersey to lead worship during the month of May, as well as to wear it when we make that donation at Ford Field in Detroit.
I'm sorry to say that we did not collect over $1,000.
We collected over $1,200. To be precise, one thousand, two hundred, thirty six dollars and twenty-nine cents. ($1,236.29)
But I didn't lose this challenge.
The people who will benefit from your generosity won. A gift of $1,000 will allow the ELCA and their global partners to go into a village or community facing water concerns and train the community about water sustainability, sanitation and good hygiene. It will allow wells to be drilled so that people don't have to spend hours lugging water jugs back and forth. It will allow those water-bearers, often the oldest girls, to be able to go to school, to learn a craft, to be given a life.
You won this challenge. In previous noisy offerings and Advent or Lenten special givings, the most that had been raised was just over $400. This year, you TRIPLED that. The ELCA's goal for Walk4Water is to raise $500,000. You did 1/500th of that on your own. Two small churches in the middle of Wisconsin.
You did this because it is for a good cause. I'm sure making me look silly played a small part.
But you have shown what you are capable of. Your potential has been exposed. With Emmanuel, Our Savior, always with us, there is NO LIMIT to what you can do in sharing the Good News of God's Love in, around and outside of our communities.
There are no losers in this challenge. Sure, I have to wear a Packers jersey for a couple of hours for a few Sundays, and for a little while in Detroit. And Ananias has to endure wearing a shirt long enough for photographic evidence to be taken. But the generosity of your hears has been shown ... and it will never be the same again.
BTW, I will be available for photographs after services while wearing my jersey. Photos will be $1 each, with proceeds to go to Walk4Water. My dignity may be for sale, but for a good cause.
A video for Walk4Water is below, and a link is in this article for more information.
April 9 is the 70th anniversary of the martyrdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
From Relevant Magazine - The Enduring Legacy of Bonhoeffer
Dietrich Bonhoeffer is an influence on my understanding of ministry and discipleship. I am working my way through his writings, but find I go back to re-read some books or articles because of an insight I've gathered from another of his writings, or biographies about him.
To learn more about him:
10 Bonhoeffer quotes you need to read
Bonhoeffer is beloved, but we need to dial back the hero worship (an article summarizing his life ... including flaws by one of the editors of his writings)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pacifist, Religious reformer and Victim of the Nazis
Bonhoeffer: The Lines of Duty
Also From Relevant Magazine - 7 Unbiblical Statements Christians Believe are in the Bible
It would be so nice if people read what was in the Bible ....
Some articles having to do with the events we remember during Holy Week, and some other topics from a Pastor who is taking some down time after the celebration of the Resurrection.
From Kathleen Mulhern at Dry Bones at Phaheos - Jesus Loves Us Down to Our Toes
A reflection of the footwashing Jesus did from John's Gospel and it's meaning.
(Remember - Judas was there to receive the bread and wine as well)
From Patrick Scriven at After.Church - Seven Reasons Why Your Church Should Have A Front Porch
I have spent time being trained to help churches to redevelop themselves, to work to walk with them in discovering how they can more effectively share God's love with those who need to hear about it. This article describes several of the initial steps taken in redevelopment in ways that everyone should be able to understand.
Guess what I'm doing this afternoon?
As a result of you winning the Walk4Water challenge, and me losing it, I am ordering my own Packer jersey to wear to lead worship during May, and when we present the offering at the Youth Gathering in Detroit. The final total is still being tabulated, but the two churches gave over $1,000 during Lent and on Easter Sunday.
It is a tribute to your generosity and love for those less fortunate.
BTW, there will be a charge for taking pictures with me in my jersey to also go to Walk4Water.
Now, what number???????
Pastor Brian's Page
Pastor Brian Robert Campbell has served at Our Savior's and Emmanuel since August 1, 2011, and began serving Nazareth on December 1, 2015.
Pastor Brian is originally from Saginaw, Michigan. He graduated from Alma College with a B.A. in Business Administration, and worked for the Saginaw Public Schools' Community Education Department for 17 years before answering the call to ministry. He graduated with a M. Div. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2011. ONE in Christ Lutheran Parish is his first call.
He is the only child of Robert and Charlotte Campbell, both who have entered the Church Eternal.
He is accompanied in ministry by his faithful bulldogge Ananias, who regularly writes for our newsletter. His articles are archived here.
He is a fan of sports teams from his native Michigan, especially the Tigers and the Lions. But we tolerate him despite that.
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Our Savior's / Emmanuel: 715-267-6142
Nazareth's Office: 715-229-2051
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