The Bulletin for
- Sunday, July 12th, can be found HERE
- Sunday, July 19th, can be found HERE
- Sunday, July 26th, can be found HERE
The Contents of this post:
Communion was offered this past week on Monday and Tues. If you did not get a chance to receive communion, or your schedule just didn’t allow for it, please feel free to call Pastor Lutjens directly on his cell phone to set up a time for your own reception of the Sacrament.
Drive Through Communion will be offered again at the beginning of next month.
Information about IMMERSE can be found HERE.
As I’ve been announcing, I encourage all of us to read the entire New Testament as a church. We have specially formatted Bibles – the Immerse Bible – that have give us an easy-to-read translation of God’s Word in a clean, simple interface. We will read about 30 pages a week, taking 16 weeks to complete the New Testament.
Please, do sign up below. If you need a copy of the book, indicate that when you sign up and Pastor will get copies for you. On Sunday, contact will be made with everyone who signed up to coordinate a time and method for discussing the weekly reading.
I ask that you continue to join with me in prayer for the end of the Pandemic. The Wharton County Office of Emergency Management has been very good at publishing a near-daily update of current Corona Virus numbers for the County. You can see their posts HERE:I continue to update my own spreadsheet each day with current known cases and tests for the virus performed in Wharton County. The spreadsheet then averages each figure over 7 days (to spread out any one-day bumps) and calculates a percentage of positive cases over the number of tests performed. One of the big Gating Criteria set by the Federal Government is to have a “downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period”. Another is that we want a “downward trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period.” This spreadsheet helps me track that.
You can see my spreadsheet HERE.
In the meantime, I ask for your prayers for our schools and those affiliated with them. Our new Superintendent in Wharton, the teachers, staff, students and parents who face the upcoming school year. I know that decisions are still being made as to the format the upcoming classrooms – if they will be in person or on-line, how social distancing may or may not take place, the use of masks. Your prayers for safety and education for everyone involved are requested continually.
Over the next several emails, I am going to attempt to write a series of articles on what is called ‘systemic racism’ or ‘institutional racism’. This is in many ways the issue that has been driving the protests across the country (and world!) following the death of George Floyd. I do not in any way think these writings will be the cure or solution to racism. There is a danger in assuming that racism in the church and society can be solved with ‘education’ – that is, merely by imparting the ‘right facts’ to people. As necessary and helpful as this approach is, it will not eradicate racism by itself. However, deliberately bringing up a number of topics can help us to frame questions and think about how we respond as both citizens and as Christians. I also do not want to claim to be an expert on racism, systemic or otherwise. However having a common experience, even in the form of these articles, can at least enable us to begin talking and sharing our own experiences and understandings, and may help us be able to see how we ourselves have participated in sinful behavior.
Currently, I have a very loose outline of topics to address. It goes something like this:
- Racism is sinful. I *think* this should be obvious, but I want to lead with stating this very clearly, and giving our theological reasons for this to start with.
- What is White Privilege? I’ve often heard White Privilege described as ‘Oh, everything is my fault because I’m white.’ I would suggest that ‘white privilege’ means ‘people don’t respond to my skin color in a way that hinder my ability to live my life’, or ‘my skin color isn’t something that creates problems for me.’ I will share some insights from a person of color, who gives practical examples of how this may take place.
- When talking with others about racism, what different perspectives often give rise to miscommunication?
- What is the argument for taking down Confederate flags and Monuments? What do they really mean, historically and culturally?
- Are we familiar with the history of Tulsa, OK and Black Wall Street? How about Rosewood, FL?
- Are we familiar with the history of segregated housing and how it affects generational wealth?
- Are the laws against certain drugs based in racism? How is that even possible?
I am not writing any of this as an official stance of the congregation or the synod. I am not writing as an attack on any member or their beliefs. I am writing to give clarity to often confusing terms and situations, and to show what options are and what they mean. I am writing to help apply God’s Law and His Gospel to an aspect of sin that we have not addressed. What we cannot do is refuse to confront a problem by denying that it exists. That is an old strategy that Satan uses to blind people to the reality of their sins and thereby to hold them in bondage. Since denial involved a refusal to recognize, confess, and repent of sin, it is a matter of grave spiritual consequence. When we deny sin, God cannot enter with his forgiveness and with his healing power. We, not someone else, then become the victims of our own self-deception. However God is also merciful and just, and has given us the promise that he “will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).
You have my apologies in advance if I use terms incorrectly or offensively, such would be done our of sheer ignorance. I welcome feedback in any form.
As stated above, I think we need to start with the clear statement that Racism is sinful. I take these next points from a report published by the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod in Feb 1994, titled ‘Racism and the Church.’ You can click on the title of the report to download and read a copy for yourself.
A simple (perhaps too simple) definition of racism is that it is a belief system founded on the idea the inherent, biological difference (or, in some cases, ethnic or cultural differences) among various human groups not only determine social or human achievement, but also the value of individual members of the human family. However, racism and its supporting rationale are fundamentally incompatible with what the Scriptures teach concerning human beings and their relationship with God. The following are the scriptural principles that lead us to make this judgment:
(Note, if anyone would like to have any of these principles fleshed out in more detail, please contact Pastor Lutjens or see the report linked above, starting around pg 28)
- God is the creator of All Human Beings.
- The Dignity of All Human Beings is Given by God, Not Achieved or Earned
- God Created All Human Beings to Honor and Serve Him Alone.
- In Jesus Christ, God Became a Man and So Identified Himself Fully with Every Member of the Human Family.
- God Sent His Son Jesus Christ to Be the Savior of All Human Beings, in Whatever Nation or Culture They May Be Found
- Jesus Christ Has Removed All Barriers That Stand between Human Beings, Making Peace through His Cross
- Love Produced in Christians by the Holy Spirit Embraces, without Distinction, All People in Their Need
- Through the Means of Grace the Holy Spirit Woks within the Context of All Cultures to Bring People to Faith in Jesus Christ and to Move them to Worship Him.
- Through the Means of Grace God Empowered Christians to ‘Abstain from the Passions of the Flesh that wage War against the Soul”, Including the Sin of Racism.
While this email is longer than typical, it also just scratches the surface of a very long, and at times complex, topic. I again invite your feedback.In all of this, our Lord Jesus continues to rule and reign over us with Grace and Mercy, offering forgiveness and restoring relationships between each other and His own self.
I remain your servant in Christ,
Rev. R.W. Lutjens
Pastor, St. John’s Lutheran Church in Wharton