Saturday, September 11, 2010

a few items

There's a number of topics on which I would write, or at least blog, but they have been on the back burner (which reminds me I have something on the stove, be right back...okay, that's better).  For now, let me just take note of some things that were on my mind in recent days.

Remembering someone at the altar is a concept that carries with it some unfortunate purgatorial baggage.  Think of the specious claim that Saint Monica asking to be remembered at the altar is a proof of purgatory.  So at the risk of childish reaction from some Lutherans, I must admit that on 1 September I thought of my mother at the altar.  It was the date of her birth, and it is unusual that I actually get the chance to attend the Holy Mass, in a Lutheran Church, on that date.  But now my chances are better, since I am now with a parish where Mass is celebrated every day.  I was serving at Mass that day, and as I knelt at the altar I thought of her twice, when I confessed the resurrection of the dead in the Credo, and when I received holy Communion.  It was probably the most ideal way to remember her.  In fact, let me use a different word than 'remember.'  At that moment I was blessedly 'aware' of my mother's place, her life, in the family of God, with which I enjoy communion.

On 4 September I thought of a milestone of Lutheran history.  The first Lutheran church in America, that of a Swedish congregation, was dedicated on that date in 1646, near Philadelphia.  Only one hundred years earlier the Blessed Reformer died.  Two centuries and a year after that first Lutheran church was dedicated, the German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States (Die Deutsche Evangelish-Lutherische Synode von Missouri, Ohio und Anderen Staaten) was officially born on Saint Mark's Day.

Speaking of the Missouri Synod, on this day, 11 September, if I understand correctly, the new president of the Synod, Fr. Matthew Harrison, is to be ritually installed as president, at a liturgy which will feature the Most Reverend Walter Obare, Archbishop of the Lutheran Church of Kenya, as homilist.  One of the things I like about Harrison is that he has a sense of history.  He is stepping into a big role that has been filled by some great men, and as he does so, he is well aware of the gravity of the moment.  Another thing I like about him is his ecumenical mindset.  That is, he is keenly aware that he stands in brotherly fellowship with the church beyond corporate Missouri, with a Lutheranism that often looks different than the upper middle class parishes that, to many, define the modern LCMS.  Such a sense of history, and a full awareness of the church in the present, these are sine qua non for a healthy move toward the future in our church body.  Let us pray for Matthew Harrison, and for the LCMS.

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