Run, Rabbit, Run!: At the Churchwide Assembly when Pr. Nancy Nord Bence of the Minneapolis Synod described the Holy Spirit as a rabbit running through the ELCA, people took notice. Among commentators, there has been a cerrtain amount of head-scratching over the use of a non-Biblical metaphor to describe the third person of the Trinity, but we like the idea of being led on a rabbit chase.
Listen to a field recording of Pr. Bence's remarks here. (mp3 format)
Verse 11: A long-time LLGM contributor reports that a recent fund-raising letter from Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries (LLGM) arrived with the handwritten citation "Mark 6:11" on the outside of the envelope. His curisousity piqued, the donor set aside the unopened envelope, picked up the nearest Bible, thumbed to the Gospel of Mark, and read:
"Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain."
Not your run-of-the-mill appeal, the donor thought to himself, and resolved to encourage this creativity by sending more money.
That night over dinner this new fund-raising strategy was a topic of amused conversation. After dinner the donor's wife finally opened the letter and read (in a loud, clear voice):
"Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them."
A quick check revealed that the dusty feet are indeed in Mark 6:11 and the swine are in verse 11 of Mark 5. Perhaps the donor should invest in a Bible with larger print.
Fearing that she had indeed put the "wrong" citation on donor letters, LLGM Development Director Amalia Vagts (pictured) reports a "near heart attack" when she received an early version of this story.
News from Central Great Lakes Synod: Having failed in his bid to succeed ELCA Secretary Lowell Almen, Central Great Lakes Synod Bishop Thorvald ("Wally") Noe-Effingway has issued a pastoral letter that is sure to make his name a household word throughout the Central Great Lakes Synod. In the letter, Bishop Noe-Effingway summarizes the results of the churchwide assembly and urges celibacy for all clergy in the synod until the ELCA has adopted a social statement on sexuality. Early rumors are that requests for mobility forms in the Central Great Lakes Synod have quadrupled.
Prayer By Example: The inspiration for Bishop Noe-Effingway's unusual request came from a speech heard on the floor of the Churchwide Assembly. Our reporters confirm that the short speech at Churchwide by Timothy Mumm of the South Central Synod of Wisconsin got everyone's attention. He invited voting members to pray by example for him and for others struggling to meet the requirement of celibacy that the ELCA imposes on gay and lesbian clergy. Would voting members be willing to live in celibacy until the ELCA Sexuality Social Statement can be adopted?
Our recording isn't the best quality, but you can hear Timothy Mumm's remarks here. (mp3 format)
Metaphorically Speaking, Of Course: ELCA assembly slips practicing gays in back door to pulpit is the breathless title of the August 11
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Pr. Sophie is all a-Twitter. Again.
Pr. Sophie's Tweets:
Hot Dish Hotline: "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." What have you seen or heard that other people really need to know about? Use the Hot Dish Hotline to submit your item online.
news release from Word Alone. Once past the titillating title, you'll have to read to the third paragraph of the release to find out what the Assembly actually did: ...voted 538 to 431 to urge bishops, synods and the presiding bishop to refrain from disciplining pastors or lay ministers in committed same-sex relationships.
Quoted in the news release, Pastor Paull Spring offers the overheated interpretation that some bishops will use the resolution "as an excuse to ordain people in same-sex relationships".
See Wikipedia for a reasonably complete list of the connotations of "back door."
Offsets and Indulgences: Just in time for Bishop Noe-Effingway's celibacy program, a friend handed us the URL for a web site that applies the notion of carbon offsets to relationships and fidelity: cheatneutral.com.
The site currently boasts that it has offset more than 65,000 "cheats" and has enlisted more than 9000 faithful people to offset the indiscretions of those who cannot help themselves.
For Lutherans, "cheat offsets" (and for that matter, carbon offsets as well) will look a lot like "indulgences", but in the Central Great Lakes Synod these days, indulgences might be just what the doctor ordered.
Ask Pr. Sophie: Pr. Sophie Fortresson, our resident expert on all matters of theology, Lutheran etiquette, and social protocol, answers questions submitted by our readers and occasionally simply volunteers advice when no question has been asked. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Pr. Sophie,
Last week I heard someone say that Jesus was a "mamzer". From the context, it did not sound like being a mamzer was a good thing. Can you tell me, please, what is a "mamzer"? Was Jesus a mamzer? Why didn't they tell me about this in confirmation?
Well, that is a very complicated question, but Pr. Sophie feels she is up to the challenge.
"Mamzer" is a Hebrew word (ממזר) that is usually rendered as "bastard" in English. See Deuteronomy 23:2, for example, which declares that a bastard shall not enter the assembly of the Lord up to the 10th generation. However, Pr. Sophie thinks simply equating mamzer and bastard obscures many nuances of the Hebrew term.
Technically, a mamzer is not a child born out of wedlock, but a child of a forbidden union, such as adultery or incest.
Taken in its technical meaning, Jesus is almost certainly not a mamzer. However, it is clear from the accounts of Jesus birth that Jesus is a bastard in the plain English sense: an O.W., a child born out of wedlock. Jesus illegitimacy is something the church has almost always felt compelled to explain away, and it is particularly embarrassing to those who look to the Bible for an unambiguous teaching on marriage and sexuality.
Recent commentators (Wayne-Daniel Berard among them) have begun to write more positively about Jesus' unusual family circumstances in relation to his message: Jesus, the illegitimate son of Mary, is an outcast who is uniquely able to bring a message of redemption to the outcasts of his day. Viewed in this way, Jesus' illegitimacy is not something to be covered up or explained away, but a facet of his being truly human and an integral part of God's Good News.
The opinions expressed by Pr. Sophie and the colorful language she uses to express them are not necessarily those of Lutheran (True) Confessions (lutheranconfessions.com) nor does their appearance here constitute an endorsement of these opinions and language.
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