During the year I collect and pile up items that I think will fit Just Watching and the Rich and Charlie Resources goal of encouraging people/parents/parishes and church leaders. Each month I review what I’ve gathered and use what seems most appropriate for the moment. But there are always left over “pearls”. In this last issue of 2017 I want to string together some of them and pass them on to our R and C readers. I hope they speak to you.
* Dave Carter gleaned from somewhere and then passed on to our Thursdays 6:30 Bible Class the view that the world can be divided into Givers and Takers. The punch line? “Takers eat well, but Givers sleep well.” Now let’s see…
* Much promotional material coming from the LCMS headquarters urges parishioners to give directly to Synod (credit cards accepted!) bypassing local and district connections. The assumption underlying that request spears to be a belief that the synod is the church. For most LCMS history that was considered nonsense smacking of heresy and the response seems to agree.
*Behind the scene for about 170 years there has been a never-ending struggle between the clergy hierarchicalism of Grabau/Loehe (“…beware the papacy of the people…”) and CFW Walther’s local parish and laity based emphasis. Walther isn’t faring too well today. I think that if he ever goes down for the count the LCMS of yore will be in trouble. What do you think?
*One answer to those who wonder why congregations are shrinking in both size and number today is that the further a local congregation gets from caring about and serving their own community the smaller it will become. In the heyday of the LCMS members lived nearby where they could walked or take public transportation (remember street cars?) to church. As suburban sprawl set in so did local outreach. When a local congregation no longer primarily serves those living within the shadow of their steeple can they last? Ditto a family that no longer takes care of its own spiritual needs?
*For 88 years I’ve watched from a front row seat as the LCMS has been getting smaller even as its Handbook (our in-house book of institutional rules and regulations) has gotten thicker and thicker. We appear to have forgotten that the Reformation was not about 95 “somethings” nailed to a door but about one incredible Someone who was nailed to a cross. How does that insight fit the church and family life in which we find ourselves?
* For years I have attended national and regional church conventions where people tried to craft rules that would give them control. John 1:17 tells us that law/rules are not the last word in control. It says, “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth through Jesus Christ…” Moses may have passed on to us curbs, mirrors and rules meant to keep human nature in check, but it took the gift of a Savior to make a lasting difference in life. More rules, ala Moses, do not produce unity in marriage, family or in Christian community. St. Paul agrees. His I Corinthian 13 ode to love is introduced as being “the more excellent way.” It’s love, a spiritual gift of which there is never enough, that makes the world go around – not laws. It’s where the future of authentic families, congregations and friendships lay.
* I can tell that we must be nearing Christmas when I’m asked, “What do you want for Christmas, Dad/Grandpa/Charlie?” When my Sweet Audie is asked that question she has traditionally answered, “A clean house – and well behaved children.” Others in my circle of friends and acquaintances echo the angels wider ranging answer of, “Peace on earth” even as they then may argue about whether the balance of the angels’ Christmas Eve announcement was, “…and good will to men”, or “…to men of good will”. With the passing of every 21st century day both seem increasingly out of our reach. But, no matter the answer others give I draw a draw a line at wanting any more “stuff”. My cup – and my closet and my dresser drawers and all the places I store things – runneth over. But there is something that I want, wild dream that it may be.
As a member of a still sizeable Silent Generation that is composed of those born between about 1925 and1944 I yearn for the ability to communicate across the Generations that separate me from my sixteen great-grandchildren, the most recent arrivals being Maeve Davidson and Levi Baker. More than anything else I want to pass on to them the Good News that is ours in Christ Jesus. What capacity could be more valuable than that?
I also want to do my best to effectively prepare them for what they will face in the four Life Stages that God has established. However many of Audie and my sweet sixteen great grandchildren will live into all four of those Life Stages is the Father’s business. Preparing them to do so is Audie and mine together with any of His 21st century community of saints that are on duty during their lifetime. Of course, R and C Resources is also here to do all it can to encourage and support parents, clergy and church leaders as they weigh in with help. May we all do our part in the name of the gift-of-all-gifts, Bethlehem’s Babe.
As 2018 opens may you have been as blessed in this Christmas season as for the 88th time I have been blessed in mine. Christ is the gift that keeps on giving whether I want Him to or not.