Category Archives: Theology

A Great Day! Groundbreaking for ULC.

Here are some pics and the sermon from the groundbreaking service at ULC on Saturday, June 24th. We were filled with joy both to be breaking ground on the new chapel and to see so many of our friends and alumni at the event.

+ Jesu Juva +

Standing Firm on Solid Ground – Luke 6:47-49

Grace, Mercy and Peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen

It is five years to the day since we held the final service at the old University Lutheran Chapel after which that building was vacated and destroyed. At the time and many times in the past five years the words of Psalm 69 have rung true for me, for us:

“Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, Where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, Where the floods overflow me. I am weary with my crying; My throat is dry; My eyes fail while I wait for my God. Those who hate me without a cause Are more than the hairs of my head; They are mighty who would destroy me, Being my enemies wrongfully… Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.”

But the Lord heard our prayers and our weeping and has brought us through the floods. And now we stand today ready to begin construction of a new chapel that His Name may dwell in this place again and be proclaimed from here to the nations.

Many thought (and some even hoped) that when the old building fell down, this congregation would fall with it. But our foundations run deeper than backhoes and bulldozers can reach. This congregation had “dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock,” which rock is Christ. And holding fast to Him, praying to Him, treasuring His grace, and treasuring the fellowship He has given us with one another, we were not swept away when the flood came and beat against us. We felt ourselves shaken, but our Lord did not let us fall.

Miraculously the Lord has provided for us all that we need these past several years. He has expanded our ministry in this place, increased our number, and has provided us land and upon which to erect a new house of worship. But He has also increased our awareness that we are not alone, that we have brothers and sisters throughout the Church who have helped hold our heads above the waters and by their prayers and help have been used by God to bring us to this day. And, I believe, He has helped us recognize even more clearly the true nature of the Church as we have suffered with one another, grown with one another, and loved one another by His grace.

And now what shall we do dear brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us build. Not just this chapel, but one another, on Christ. For though we hope this building, once raised, will stand for generations, we know from hard experience that buildings sometimes fall. But our faith, our fellowship, our community, our mission, need not fall, and will not fall so long as we continue to build on Christ. So let us build: faithful to His Word, firm in our confession, gracious and loving in our demeanor, and zealous in our mission.

And the Lord will keep us, for He is gracious. Though we in no wise deserve His favor, He has favored us and kept us. And He will continue to do so, granting us now a font, a pulpit, an altar, a place; where His Word will be proclaimed and His sacraments given for the life of the world and for our forgiveness and life and salvation. Psalm 69, which I quoted earlier, concludes with these words, and so shall I:

“God will save Zion And build the cities of Judah, That they may dwell there and possess it. Also, the descendants of His servants shall inherit it, And those who love His name shall dwell in it.”

Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, to life everlasting.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

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Youth Attend Higher Things “Bread of Life” Conference in Iowa

By Nancy Bynum

The youth and chaperones would like to say “Thank You!” to the congregation for offering scholarships to the Bread of Life 2016 Higher Things Conference.  We are delighted that so many youth were able to attend including: Nicole, Cassie, and Nathan Demlow; Isaac Glynn; Jake and Joe Henke; Andrew Kind; Katherine, Nathan, and Matthew Vanderhyde; Caleb, and Rachel Walker. Chaperones included: Sarah Rose Battles, Pastor Kind, Karen Henke, Jaclyn Magnuson, Kari Walker, and Nancy Bynum.

13631623_10107861101765980_624904406728762073_nPastior Kind began our trip with Matins and a prayer that the Angel Raphael would accompany us along the way and that we would return to our homes in peace, in safety, and in joy.

After one gas stop and one lunch stop, we arrived at Northern Iowa University in Cedar Falls and picked up our materials.  The theme for this year’s Higher Things Conference was “Bread of Life.”  The schedule for the Higher Things Conference was full of excellent services, sessions and events.  The full details and schedule are here on the web.

The conference opened with the Divine Service. Nathan Vanderhyde neatly summed up what many of our young people thought about this service by saying, “I think the major highlight of Higher Things was having 837 people singing the same hymns and saying the Lord’s prayer. It’s amazing to think that they all pretty much believe the same thing as you do. That’s what really made me want to be there all week.”  

The regional team activities were especially noteworthy.  Our team, the “VIR”, posted on facebook, engaged groups from other churches in activities, and found the vicar dressed as a unicorn to score points for our team. Matthew Vanderhyde organized several people to form “FEAR THE VIR” on the lawn, scoring several points for the VIR team. https://www.facebook.com/photo.phpfbid=1012801285483493&set=a.111431375620493.18332.100002608930261&type=3

Pastor Donovan Riley addressed the first plenary session on the attempt by some to refute that Jesus is God from the text of Scripture itself.  Among Pastor Riley’s points were the ‘I Am’ statements by Christ in the New Testament.  Christ spoke these fully aware of, and connected to, God’s “I am” statements in the Old Testament.

Some of the points the youth and the chaperones enjoyed pondering were as follows:

  • We are far more attracted to the needs of our body than the needs of our soul.
  • No more judgement, wrath, or hell: Christ’s life is sustaining us unto life everlasting
  • The Lord’s supper is food and drink for the journey, to sustain you
  • Compare your decisions to the 10 commandments, table of duties, and the Proverbs.  Will your decision give glory and honor to God?
  • The boldness and confidence of Christ should encompass all that we are and all that we do.
  • The solution to shame is Christ: confessing our sins and receiving absolution
  • We are like mirrors.  God creates, orders, loves, and speaks to us.  We are only able to reflect God’s worth, value, identity, and confidence in His presence.  Consequently, when we separate ourselves from Christ we lose our value, our identity, our confidence, and our worth.
  • The devil wants us to fear the situation; he wants us to think he has the authority over every situation. Fortunately for us, every battle has been won.  Christ said it is finished. Proclaim God’s authority over every situation using His word.
  • Pastor Kind can be in a tornado and his hair still would look great.
  • In every situation, we always know what to do: PRAY!
  • The fact that we never think we need help does not change the fact that God is merciful and gracious and helping us 24/7.
  • Some people say they FEEL led to do something deep down in their hearts.  In our hearts it is dark, our hearts are incubators for thoughts of murder, slander, and hatred – do we really want to follow our hearts?
  • We are to pray AGAINST our enemies by using the psalms of imprectation:  Psalm 12 – prays that God word would be kept pure;  Psalm 94 prays for the defenseless – aborted babies included.  (Other “Go get’em God” Psalms: 5, 10, 17, 35, 58, 59, 69, 70, 79, 83, 109, 129, 137, 140)
  • The lost sheep, the lost coin, like we, are dead assets, Christ comes to us as “dead assets”,  rescues us, and gives us new life.
  • Sin is deep corruption of the heart – confessing sin over and over while putting our trust and confidence in Christ alone is the “cure”.  
  • On Closed communion: Christ taught all, fed all, but the Lord’s supper was reserved for the disciples only.  “Just because someone wants to do something does not make it good for them.”
  • The Lord’s supper: (1) Ransoms us from death (2) Removes guilt – of sins we’ve done, and sins done to us (3) Resurrection of the body, we cannot live without forgiveness of sin – our sinful mundane lives are interrupted by eternal life. (4) Renews and restores us – (Sanctification) – the old Adam is choked to death, and the new Adam is strengthened (5) Gives us confidence of God’s approval

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 9.31.26 PM

13613429_1014125972017691_447339482334674825_oThe trip ended with a pizza party at Green Mill in Albert Lea followed by compline at Luther House.  There were 23 opportunities to receive God’s word in the time we spent at Higher Things.  Again, we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the congregation for their continued support!

I encourage our youth to start saving up for the 2017 Higher Things conference, the choices are:

  • June 27-30 – Trinity University, San Antonio, TX
  • July 4-7 – Mars Hill University, Mars Hill, NC
  • July 18-21 – Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
  • July 25-28 – Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN

#Breadoflife2016 – #davidkindshair – #fearthevir

Wandering in Place

By Pastor Kind

Purple Onion
The Purple Onion Cafe in Dinkytown – one of my favorite lunch spots

About once a week I eat lunch at the Purple Onion Cafe in Dinkytown, just a few blocks away from Luther House. Its a great place, filled with students and profs and other university types. When I go to the Onion I always bring along something to read – something theological – something that doesn’t have anything to do with the class I’m teaching or the sermon I’m working on – something to be read for its own sake. Lately that something has been Hermann Sasse’s Letters to Lutheran Pastors.

Today I was reading a letter Sasse, who had left Germany and was then serving as a professor of theology in Australia, wrote in 1950 entitled Ecclesia Migrans, “the wandering Church.” In this letter Sasse makes the point that all Christians are wanderers: “wandering through countries and continents, through nations and races, through civilizations and eras of human history” (Letters to Lutheran Pastors, Vol. 1, p.200). History, he argues, has shown this to be true. The Church thrives for a while in one locale, then migrates to another never to return to the first. And this, Sasse says, is not strange, but helps to illustrate the nature of the Church as a heavenly, rather than merely an earthly institution. He gets this concept of the wandering Church from the New Testament which describes the Church and her Christians as sojourners, as pilgrims, as citizens of another realm – “In the world, yet not of the world,” our Lord says.

Sasse
Hermann Sasse

And yet, because the Church is in the world, she puts down roots, albeit temporary roots, in it. How can the Church influence the world without doing so? While she has no abiding city (Heb. 13:14), she still is active in and dwells in the earthly city, and as long as faith abides in that city, remains there. One thing Sasse said struck me in particular in light of the trends of today that argue that Churches do not need to be attached to a particular place, or have property and buildings and such, in order to fulfill their mission (being “missional” is the current catch phrase). He said: “Nothing more clearly reveals the earnestness with which the Church of Christ carries out its commission to go ‘into the world’ and to work ‘in the world’ than the tenacity with which the Church endeavors to strike roots in a given district, nation, or locality. What a temptation it must have been for the primitive church, with its keen awareness of being the wandering people of God, to roam nomadically about the world and quickly pass on the Gospel to all people” (p.205).

And yet it was not a temptation to which the Church succumbed. The apostles went into the world and established congregations in the cities and locales they visited. Those congregations remained in place so long as faith in the Word and grace of Christ remained in those places. They received or purchased land. They built buildings – great buildings even! Sasse says: “the Church already in ancient times becomes possessed of landed interests. In the eyes of men, landed property becomes the most valued earthly possession of the Church. It is more than an aftereffect of a late-ancient and medieval framework of economy that churches today are still property owners; also that they make every effort to compensate for the great losses which they have suffered in this respect… Underlying this is not merely a lust for power but also the realization… that the Church can influence the world only when she actually enters into the world, as her Lord and Master did and as He expects His church to do…” (p.205-206). In other words, it is important for the church to claim a piece of this world to call her own, even if only for a while, to lay down shallow roots, to be landed and to build. Why? Because she has been put in the world to bring the grace of Christ into the world through her preaching and her liturgical and sacramental life in the world. Claiming a place is a natural part of bringing the Gospel to that place. And that mission is accomplished more easily when there is a particular place from which the Church can do it, and to which people may be drawn. The Church is meant to wander in place. Until that place will have her no more.

Dinkytown 1The place where ULC wanders in place is Dinkytown USA, adjacent to the University of Minnesota. Like the Purple Onion cafe, Dinkytown itself is a place full of students – not just Minnesotans, but students from all around the world – and full of profs and other university types too. It is a place where the students, the pastors, and the members of ULC, have confessed the Gospel since 1925. It is where we have chosen to lay down our roots while we wander this earth.

Dinkytown 2Sasse also says: “we are reminded that it was a great misunderstanding to suppose that our churches and our congregations would necessarily maintain their status quo unto Judgment Day. To be “in the world” certainly means to stand where God has placed us and to maintain our stand to the very end. But it does not mean that God could not allow the place were we stand to be smashed to bits” (p.208)

Dinkytown 3

How well we know it! 

And yet we do not for a minute believe that we have reached “the very end” of our stand in Dinkytown and at the University of Minnesota. What God has allowed to be smashed to bits, He is also, it appears, allowing to be rebuilt. The roots have been shifted only 1 ½ blocks away. Our wandering in this place is not quite over yet.

As we are nearing ground-breaking (likely this Fall!), I ask you to help us lay the roots a little deeper and Build-it-Back.

LSB – A Tool

by Brenda Schmidt

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 9.04.41 AMI recently started to discover the wonders that are in the Lutheran Service Book (LSB), our hymnal. As a kid (using the blue hymnal, Lutheran Worship) I thought that the only things in the hymnal were services in the front and hymns in the back. I never took the time to browse and see what else was inside.

When I embarked on a mission to dig into our beloved Lutheran book of songs, I was happy to find that when the LCMS Commission on Worship assembled the hymnal, they didn’t just have a church service inside the sanctuary in mind. They packed it full of helpful tools that can assist you in your daily Bible reading and study. It’s even available as a download for your tablet or phone, so if you are using the daily lectionary as part of your Bible reading routine, you can easily access it anytime!

LSB PicYes, you read that right – daily lectionary. Before I started poking around the book, I thought that a lectionary was only for the pastor’s use on Sundays… but there is a daily version for you, too! It also corresponds with the lectionary your pastor preaches from on Sundays, so you can follow along with the church year in your own daily devotions. I’ve found this helps to dig deeper into the texts, since you will find themes running through your Bible reading at home and the paster expounding on these topics in the Divine Service.

Speaking of your personal Bible time at home, did you know the psalter is inside the LSB?  Rev. Kind has often said that the Psalms are meant to be sung, as they are the hymnal of the Israelites. Using the psalter in my devotions to sing the Psalms instead of reading them has greatly enriched my Bible studies at home, and I hope you are equally blessed if you give it a shot.

I was most surprised to find the small catechism in the LSB. At first I didn’t understand why it was there, but I have used it quite a bit since I started using the other resources like the daily lectionary and psalter. University Lutheran Chapel prints weekly catechism lessons in the bulletins, so once a week I take time to look those up and meditate on them without needing to go back to the bookshelf.

And when you get into an argument with your friend over whether Transfiguration Sunday was today or 3 weeks ago, you have a handy reference you can open that will solve the mystery. When you check out the lectionaries in your LSB, you’ll find that your friend’s church is not going rogue or making up their own church year; they are probably just following the 3-year lectionary instead of the 1-year lectionary.

There are so many great resources in the LSB that I don’t even have time to use it all like I want, but it quickly became my most useful tool in daily devotion once I started to explore it. I hope you also are able to utilize all of the wonderful things inside.

Life in Exile (Part 2)

By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down, yea, we wept
When we remembered Zion.
We hung our harps
Upon the willows in the midst of it.
For there those who carried us away
captive asked of us a song,
And those who plundered us
requested mirth,
Saying, “Sing us one of the
songs of Zion!”
How shall we sing the Lord’s song
In a foreign land? (Psalm 137:1-4)

BabylonThus lamented the people of Israel while exiled in the land of Babylon. Their nation had been conquered, their city laid waste, their temple destroyed. How could they sing to the Lord in a foreign land, a land not only of foreign peoples, but of foreign gods? How could they praise the Lord while in such a state of misery and defeat?

And yet, they did. In the midst of their exile there was also blessing. God had sent them into Babylon, but He had not abandoned them there. Though their temple was gone, He was not absent. While chastising the nation for its unfaithfulness, He also preserved it and provided for His people — even in Babylon. And the faithful of Israel did sing the Lord’s song in that foreign land, a song of thankfulness in the midst of suffering, a song of hope in the midst of exile.

Daniel, before facing the lions of King Darius, is found doing this. “In his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (Daniel 6:10). When the Lord made us of Esther to save the Jews living in exile from the evil Haman, the Jews proclaimed a feast and gathered together in gladness. And while the Biblical book of Esther does not speak of God’s actions directly in this account, apocryphal Esther says: “This is Israel, who cried out to God and were saved. The Lord has saved His people; the Lord has delivered us from all these evils; God has done great signs and wonders, which have not occurred among the nations… God remembered His people and vindicated His inheritance” (10:9, 12). History tells us that it was during the Babylonian exile that synagogues were first established, places where the Jews, lacking a temple, could meet to hear the Word of the Lord and to sing the songs of Zion. And yet, even though God was present with them in that foreign land, even though He had blessed them there such that we could say that they thrived in exile, they longed for more. They longed for a return.

One day the Lord answered that longing by bringing them out of exile to Jerusalem. Sorrow was turned to rejoicing; hope, to blessed fulfillment. The nation was restored. The city walls were raised up. The temple was rebuilt. And the people sang:

When the Lord brought back
the captivity of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing.
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great
things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
And we are glad. (Psalm 126:1-3)

In 1940 the Minnesota District Convention decided that there wasn’t a pressing need for a campus chapel at the University of Minnesota. It would be enough, they determined, to have a campus pastor who could conduct the ministry without one. Three years later, at the 1943 convention, they realized they had made a mistake. The motto of the 1943 convention echoed the theme of the exiles returning from Babylon: “Let us rise up and build” (Nehemiah 2:18). And while the convention essay rightly focused on the building that takes place through the faithful preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments, the convention delegates applied this theme to the needs of the campus ministry at the U of M, approving a resolution instructing the District Board of Directors to: “prepare plans and gather funds for the erection of a university chapel.”

Laying the Cornerstone of the old ULC Chapel
Laying the Cornerstone of the old ULC Chapel

In 2012, the Minnesota South District (though the convention was denied the right to vote on the issue) decided that the chapel that had resulted from that 1943 action was no longer needed at the U of M; that such a place was superfluous – a hinderance even – to the work of campus ministry. Three years later, at the 2015 convention, held just a few weeks ago, the District realized they had made a mistake. The delegates passed a resolution (with a 92% majority!) that recognizes: “University Lutheran Chapel (ULC) lacks worship space on or near the campus it serves,” and that resolves to put together a Campus Ministry Plan which will, in part, “Provide financial support for adequate worship space on or near the campus being served.”

Since 2012 ULC has been worshipping in exile, so to speak. God has not abandoned us. Indeed, like with ancient Israel, He has blessed us greatly during this time of exile. But it is an exile. We worship at an ELCA chapel where the foreign gods of post-modernity, social justice, and liberal theology are the chief deities of the land, whose images surround us in the art, architecture, propaganda and literature of the place. And though we are very thankful for a place to worship, it is not our homeland. We feel rather like the Jews in Babylon. While there is much rejoicing among us because of the Gospel we have and receive, as well as the fellowship we share in Christ, it is still hard sometimes not to weep “when we remember Zion.”

It took seven years from the time of the 1943 convention to build a chapel. We pray it will not take us until 2022 to build the new chapel. But we have an advantage over them in this: we have already raised 2/3 of the funds needed for the project. The land has already been purchased. A plan is already underway. Now the District has determined to help. We don’t know how much yet. But we do know that we continue to need your help too.

Our goal is to dedicate the chapel at Reformation 2017, the 500th anniversary of Luther posting the 95 Theses. Please help us rise up and build. Help us so that weeping may turn to rejoicing, and that we may also say: “We were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing.”

This article appears in the Summer 2015 ULC Newsletter. You can read the rest of the newsletter here.