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30 January 2007
  A Time for Burning

Last night I watched the movie A Time for Burning, it is a documentary about two Lutheran Churches in Omaha, Nebraska. One was a white congregation and the other a black congregation. The movie takes place in the late '60's; I think it was around 1967.

The pastor at the white church decides that he would like to open a dialogue between his church and the other church. Here is the description of the movie from The Internet Movie Database:
In the mid-1960s, 1200 White people attend Augustana Lutheran Church in Omaha, Nebraska. Nearby, Negro Lutherans worship at Hope Lutheran Church. Reverend Bill Youngdahl, Augustana's pastor, proposes that ten couples visit ten Negro families from Hope. It's a controversial idea; within weeks, Youngdahl resigns. The camera observes: Augustana parishioners discuss the idea, the social ministry committee meets with Hope leaders, and Hope youth talk about race and religion. Ernie Chambers, a Negro barber, predicts Youngdahl's failure, and Chambers' implacable questions help lead Ray Christensen, an Augustana social ministry member, to a conversion.

I know that for most of my life I had never seen a "black-Lutheran." The first time I had met an black Lutheran was when I attended the Denver Youth Gathering. I ended up rooming with three black kids from Chicago, I think, because my group had an odd number of guys. I didn't mind. They were nice guys, for the life of me I can't remember their names, though.

I wasn't sure how I would feel about this movie. Its a free flowing movie. There is no narrator so it takes a little while to figure out who the major players are. There are three: Rev. Bill Youngdahl, Ray Cristen, and Ernie Chambers.

Ernie Chambers is a black man, who eventually becomes a very powerful senator in the Nebraska Senate. Ray Cristen is the head of the "social ministries" at Augusta Lutheran church. Cristen is an interesting guy. At first he is against the idea completely, but he eventually comes the value of the whole "excercise." Sadly, and this is a spoiler, I apologize, Rev. Youngdahl is removed from his ministry by his congregation of the episode. It is said he isn't a good "fit" for the congregation.

This movie is mainly video of meetings and chats between these three men.

It is an interesting movie, but tough to follow at times. It's a history that many Lutherans might not like to see or be reminded of, sadly, it might even present a present that many Lutherans might not like to be reminded of.

A Time for Burning is about an hour long. I'd say its worth an hour of your day or evening and would give it an A-.

28 January 2007
  Lutheran Carnival XLII

House, MDiv put together a fine effort for Lutheran Carnival XLII. Drop by and sample the works of an eclectic group of Lutheran authors.

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15 January 2007
  Meditations on Divine Mercy

Originally posted at Necessary Roughness. Comments will be handled there.

Meditations on Divine Mercy is a translation of Exercitium pietatis by Johann Gerhard. It has been translated into English by Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, executive director of LCMS World Relief.

Meditations is a small package — about 4" x 7", 144 pages — with vivid theological imagery in its 45 prayers. Usually emotion is a flag that one has wandered off theologically, but Gerhard shows that one can be quite emotional while remaining firmly in the Word. It is easily read, thanks to the translator.

The author recommends that the reader/meditator take a prayer out of each of the book's four sections for one daily meditation:
  1. Contemplating sins and forgiveness,
  2. Thanking God for his blessings,
  3. Praying to increase our spiritual gifts, and
  4. Praying for the temporal and spiritual needs of our neighbor.
Each small prayer is 2-3 pages, so one's meditation may run about 10-15 minutes. There are more than enough combinations to have a different prayer every day. :)

Gerhard's work is applicable in the recent blog discussions about sanctification and good deeds, especially in the prayers for the mortification of the old man and the disdain of earthly things: We ask for help so that sin does not rule us. If we live according to the flesh, we will die (Romans 8:13). The things of this world do not satisfy the soul. They do not give in return the love we give them. Where our treasure is, there our heart is also (Matthew 6:21).

I'll let a couple of people borrow this book, but they will have to give it back. I do recommend this for everyone. :)

14 January 2007
  Lutheran Carnival Kicks Off 2007

Dan at Necessary Roughness starts the new year for the Lutheran Carnival with an American football theme, plus comments on one of his favorite Lutheran hymn writers, Philipp Nicolai. So sit down with Lutheran Carnival XLI: The Post Season and catch up on some of the recent good writing in the confessional Lutheran blogosphere.

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10 January 2007
  Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the First Four Centuries

Originally posted at Necessary Roughness. Please leave any comments there.

I don’t remember who exactly in the #tabletalk IRC chat room directed me to this book in answer to my question, “What was meant by ‘the communion of saints’ in the Apostles’ Creed?” I thank them nonetheless.

Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the First Four Centuries, originally written in German by Werner Elert and translated into English by N. E. Nagel, is a fascinating book detailing early church practice, the schisms that occurred and why, and even a couple of attempts at unification.

Elert answers the question by going first to the Creed in the original Greek and then to the Latin that has been used in church liturgy. He argues that the Greek follows more closely with a “communion of holy things” rather than a communion of people. The phrase simply means Holy Communion. The Latin language did not denote as specifically as the Greek the difference between people and objects, so holy people, or “saints” as we know it, worked its way into the Creed.

Throughout the book the author emphasizes that the coming together of people does not constitute the Sacrament of Holy Communion. People of different beliefs have been brought together and even forced to take communion together by emperors in an effort to show church unity where there was none. Elert tells the reader, “The fellowship-nature of the Sacrament is in this that Christ incorporates into Himself those who partake of it.” The words of Christ in the creation of the Lord’s Supper “are without analogy and are therefore not to be explained by means of other examples.”

The reader is led from the true doctrine of the earliest believers into increasing degrees of human defenses and human error. The episcopate, the canon of the New Testament, and the Rule of Faith which manifested itself in the confession of creed and doctrine, defended the Gospel early on. The episcopate and the Rule of Faith were expanded and given more power, eventually causing more schisms. Penitential periods for gross sin started out as a time for re-instruction but turned into punishments and penances. Civil government got involved and began to enforce unity through coercion rather than discussion.

A background in Greek and Latin is helpful but not necessary to understanding this book. It is a fast and easy read, a credit to both Elert and his translator. I came away with this with an adjustment in my thinking about church discipline: ideally, refusal of the Lord’s Supper and excommunication are not new punishments but outward indications of the split one has already done himself from what is taught in the Bible. The first half of this book would be of wonderful use in a Bible study, and the rest is simply good history.

02 January 2007
  Psst...Hey, Bookworms!

Thanks to my relatives and my wish list, I received for Christmas about six books that I can review.

I could post two reviews within the next two weeks to get Luther Library on Lutheran Carnival XLI (which I am hosting), but I would prefer to showcase the intellect of superiors. :)

I hope your Christmas has also been rewarded with books to review, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

01 January 2007
  Lutheran Carnival the Fortieth

Random Dan has mounted Lutheran Carnival XL at the mother blog. Drop by for a good overview of recent Lutheran blogging excellence. Also featured is the current "underknown Lutheran," composer Michael Praetorius.

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Cross-posted at Aardvark Alley.

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