Friday, December 12, 2008


The holiday season is often cited as the most stressful time of the year for American adults. Among the reasons for this is the expectation that we purchase gifts for all our friends and family and then impress them with our behavior and appropriate attire. While giving gifts is a wonderful thing, due to the sheer volume involved, the cultural imperative to buy everyone different objects at the same time seems to result in mania and the exchange often meaningless presents that are given primarily to check someone off the shopping list. Advent becomes a whirlwind of activity and Christmas is turned into the day of collapse--the day when we see if we survived the self-imposed gauntlet.

This seems counterproductive to the message of Christmas, and especially counterproductive to the message of Advent. Advent, Latin for "coming" consists of the four weeks leading up to Christmas, "Christ's sending." It is a time of the days getting shorter. It is a time of reflection on the darkness the world and in our own lives. But in the midst of this, Advent is a time of waiting for the coming of God's promised hope in this world, the coming Christ, the light that is not overcome. Christmas is the celebration of the days getting longer, the celebration that future will be brighter than the past, the celebration that greatest power in the universe--love--is found in the form of a little baby. Christmas is a festival of new life.

Yes, giving gifts is a good way to celebrate new life. By let them be gifts born out of contemplation. Let them be gifts born out of a yearning for a brighter world. Let them be gifts which proclaim that God is not found in the palaces of kings, or the towers of merchants, but in the fragile form of human beings. Let them be gifts of Christ's sending.

Two websites that give advice on how this might actually happen: Advent Conspiracy and Alternatives for Simple Living.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Advent Coffeehouse

Every year during Advent, PLTS takes over the local coffee shop, Brewed Awakening, and celebrates the darknening of the world, the coming of Christ, and the immanent end of the semester through singing, storytelling, and lots of jokes.

Musical acts available for viewing by: Student Body President Chris, Nick, Kara and Jon, the Kirstens, Eric, and Holly, DC, and Doug.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Community Organizing and Lutherans

Two weeks ago, Rev. Lucy Kolin, a Lutheran pastor from Oakland, stood in front of Congress and, with the support of a thousand congregations across the country, asked Congress to prevent the foreclosure of 2 million homes.
How is it that a pastor from a small congregation on the west coast ended up leading a protest in Washington D.C. and being interviewed on CNN? Community Organizing.

A few years back the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Oakland started a listening campaign with the help of People Improving Communities Through Organizing (PICO), a community organizing network. The congregation discovered that its parishioners were deeply concerned by the fact that housing in Oakland was prohibitively expensive, meaning that parishioners were being forced to move away and the surrounding community was in a state of decline. With the realization that members of the congregation had a common cause, and grounded in the conviction that you can't serve your neighbor if you don't have any neighbors, the congregation began researching, conversing, and connecting, so that now their demands for affordable housing for all people have been heard by city officials all the way to United States Senators. All of this because they decided to listen to the concerns of the members of their congregation.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Blog Incarnate!

Now that the election is over, I have the opportunity to talk about something that occurred a couple weeks ago:

On Oct. 31, 1517, a German monk named Martin Luther is said to have nailed a list of complaints about the
universal church to his chapel door, thereby igniting the Protestant Reformation. 491 years later, my congregation invited others to do the same. To this end, they placed a large wooden door outside of the Chapel with paper, markers, and tacks, and a sign encouraging all passers by to post their own their own theses upon the Church.

The picture shows the door after two days. After the door have been out for two week it was entirely covered with comments which were presented before the congregation:

Try to understand and love even those with whom we disagree however fervently.

No war in this world.

Buildings, Houses, People.

Peace. ☮

God’s love outweighs any sin.

He makes people. God.

The church must lead a change in our culture of consumption to convert our economy away from accumulation of worthless stuff to sharing of resources.

That we as Christians live completely with much more than enough while others are in need.

Let’s destroy the idea of “sin.” It is harder to believe that God likes us exactly for who we are, with no exceptions, than to think otherwise. Perhaps we are fine, just as we are.

Impression :) .

The extent of our love is the limit of God’s omnipotence. May we unbound God’s salvation that all creation will be free to praise God’s victory of love.

I choose love, life, and alignment with God’s plan.

To know God is to do justice.


The church needs to change to meet the needs of the people instead of expecting people to change to fit into the church.

All churches should understand that love, acceptance and brotherhood of all fellow humans is the most important lesson of Christ.

We need the church to boldly proclaim peace!

Walmart. And people’s need for it.


Those churches dedicated to God’s love for all people are called to be prophetic voices, not complacent voices.

Jesus would choose for our first priority that all beings everywhere have water, food, clothing. (Everyone gives $1. Give collect to favorite charity.)

Let birdies free and help animals to be happy. Leave animals in peace.

Peace shall reign.

Modern day church has become a bunch of people pleasers instead of people who desire to “please God,” who is holy & righteous (Galatians 1).

Being pro-life should mean sustaining a culture of ALL life.

I object to the inaction of millions of well mannered Lutherans who stood by as our nation conducts an illegal and immoral occupation in Iraq.

Homosexuality is forbidden by the Bible. Repent and Jesus forgives with infinite love. & if you don’t repent, Jesus kills & tortures you in eternal hellfire. Amen. God is love.
Stop human slavery.

Jesus Loves Everyone! So, too, the Church, our Lord’s representative on Earth, should strive to show Love to all, without words of judgment, intolerance or hate.

The church should be subverting nationalism, not supporting it.

The commandment was to love another, not judge one another. ☮

As we gather to worship You, our worship may enable our empathy with our fellow creatures.

The radicals are not always right. But the conservatives are always wrong. We can always do more and better.

Warm spiritual greetings—The worst problem is that those of us who are willing to be involved with peace and justice campaigns are inadequately supported by the larger Christian community. Particularly at volatile, large venue direct actions, protests, and demonstrations, and attenuating service efforts, support for participants is next to nothing. Where’s the solidarity for those on socio-political and in more recent years, environmental, front lines? I think it’s wonderful to
be close to Christ. Where are the rest of you? Posted by Berkeley Catholic worker, recently returned from organizing in Denver and 6th visit to Washington DC confronting the confusion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Face painting for ☮. Work for peace. Music, art, dance for ☮. Jesus is the prince of peace. Pray & meditate for ☮.

Peace festivals with international food.

The Bible was written by human beings, who are fallible even if they serve an infallible God.

Love is the only absolute.

Love, and else will work out. This is true.

Reason and direct observation should guide our beliefs, not various interpretations of supernatural events long ago.

Since the Catholic Church has never attempted to deny the civil rights of divorced heterosexuals, what is really behind their support of Proposition 8?

The church must lead a change in our culture of consumption to convert our economy away from accumulation of worthless stuff to sharing of resources.

Unborn babies being killed, and their mothers stuck with no choice but abortion.

More tolerance, no strings attached welcome. God loves everyone—no exceptions! Peace for all. Justice for all. Food for all. Shelter for all. Love for all.

Separate the church from the system.

God’s love and grace is for everyone … so … health care should be available to everyone one.

Squeaky (he’s nice!). More peace! Less war!

Be open to, listen to, see those around you.

Put out the fire, 1st by water, then by fire.

No strings attached welcome.

I’d like to be able to be Christian and not have to hide it.

Care for EVERYONE – the hungry, the sick, the poor, those who are different from us, those whose opinions differ. True action, welcoming open hearts – in our church & in our world.

Church shouldn’t be about gathering once a week at some building to have someone tell us a certain way to live our lives with a set of rules … BUT … church should be about doing our best to love and serve our neighbors unconditionally … As a fellowship of followers of Jesus Christ!

Peace. ☮ No war.

The Christian church began as a subversive movement against the Roman Empire, which had co-opted the Jewish elite. But now the church is corrupted by power. We need to quit being co-opted by the American empire and work for peace instead.
What posting resonates most with you? What would you add?

Friday, November 7, 2008

ELCA Presiding Bishop's letter to Obama

Presiding Bishop’s Statement on 2008 Presidential Election

Americans have chosen a new president in an historic election. I congratulate Senator Obama on his election to our nation’s highest office, and express gratitude to Senator McCain for his continuing commitment to public service. I commend both for participating in our nation’s democratic process, which serves our venerable tradition of the peaceful transfer of power.

We look to the future as a nation troubled by economic crisis and continuing wars. Such complex realities call for both humility and ingenuity. In the midst of these challenges, we as Lutherans also look to the future as a community of faith and a people of hope. We bring to the public square a longstanding and effective commitment to serve our neighbors and a conviction that government is instrumental in God’s purpose for humanity when public officials work for justice, peace, order and the common good.

Scripture is clear about what should matter to us as Christians in public life: hospitality to strangers, concern for people in poverty, peacemaking and care for creation. From these core biblical values, I appeal to President-elect Obama to establish the following priorities for his administration:

  • a response to the current economic crisis with special focus on low-income people
  • a robust diplomatic effort to restore U.S. credibility abroad
  • a fulfillment of the promised U.S. funding share of the Millennium Development Goals
  • strong support for alternative energy research to end our dependence on oil and establish a new green economy
  • fair and humane immigration reform
  • serious re-engagement with a peace process for Palestinians and Israelis

I call on all members of this church to join me in committing to work with this new administration across the broad spectrum of our Lutheran partnerships and networks. Remain active in public service, be in conversation with each other and within your communities on these issues, and engage members of Congress and this administration through this church’s advocacy ministry. Pray for President-elect Obama, Vice President-elect Biden, and their families, and for their work and service on behalf of our country.

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Are

Hope splashes the streets
Joy drips from the lampposts
Houses cannot hold us
Hell, gravity can't hold us
'Cause tonight we stormed the fortress of our apathy
Today is our generation's D-day
Today we took the myth that patriotism was fear, and hate, and sloth, and we smashed it
We smashed it with a vote in our hands and our voice on our blog, our twitter, our phone, our blackberry.
And in the broken shards of four-years-then-eight, we found American pride,
just sitting there, ticked we'd taken so long.
Now red, white, and blue bleeds in our eyes
and bites on our hearts--hard enough that we have no choice but to sing our love for this country.
So as we spew out of cars to reach the hands of brothers and sisters we never thought to see before, as drums and honks and banjos end our silence, our chaos dance is a mosaic pasted on the sidewalks, the storefronts, the traffic medians, and the asphalt soil from which we grow our liberty.
Because today we are free.
Today we are America.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"I am (Obama)"

While the students at PLTS are undoubtedly some of the finest in country, today I have to give a shout out to UCC seminarian Julian DeShazier, a.k.a J.Kwest, of the University of Chicago for his new song, "I am (Obama)."

J.Kwest - I Am (Obama) from Endangered Peace on Vimeo.