Pastor Henry's Memo

September 2018

Cleanliness and Godliness

Very recently it was reported on the radio our laundry detergents are making us sick.  The story alleged the additives for scent, color, and cleansing agents were toxic and harmful to the environment and to our bodies.  Specifically, the additives are not fully rinsed out at washing and they cling to our clothing and then to our bodies and then absorbed through our skin, and finally, they disable our natural body chemistry to the point of making us sick.  It has something to do with our gut bio-system being tainted.  I have no idea about the veracity of the original study.  I am not a chemist and I don't intend to investigate anything.  However, I will tell you we only use "free and clear" at our back room laundry.  All this reminds me of a famous and oft quoted line by John Wesley.  It was the good Reverend who said in a 1778 sermon "Cleanliness is next to Godliness."  This phrase is mistakenly believed to be in the Bible.  Trust me, there is no chapter and verse.  It's so familiar as to have become a cliché.  Who knew the founder of Methodism was capable of such a masterful turn of phrase.  I'm not sure what side of the environmental debates Mr. Wesley would support.  However, he would be in favor of a life of both cleanliness and Godliness. 



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The Cross Alone is Our Theology

Our Indiana Conference expects its pastors to engage in ten days if meaningful continuing education every year.  It recommends we spend these days with other clergy.  What we read, discuss, and learn is left up to us.  I try to find lectures, programs, and symposia that are scripturally themed to challenge me.  This week I'm at Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Louis for their 29th Annual Theological Symposium.  Our study will focus on this: The Cross Alone Is Our Theology.  I assume this has to do with St. Paul's admonition in I Corinthians 2:2  "that I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. ..."  I do hope my days among the Lutherans will refresh my seminary studies and enrich my heart and mind on this very substantial theme.  I might even hear a story or two I can use in my preaching.  I must say Concordia puts on this event as if it were a classroom experience for current students and those of us who are decades down the road, so to speak.  I trust I will leave St. Louis enlightened, refreshed, and eager to share what I learned.  

29th Annual Theological Symposium

The Cross Alone is Our Theology!



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9/11 and Deaths in the Human Family

It's the middle of the lunch hour and I'm hungry.  Lunch is eaten usually after 2pm by me, just because.  Unless there is a scheduled time and place and a friend or two or three, I eat alone.  I use that hour or so to read while I eat.  I'm not quite half finished with The Unspeakable Loss by Dr. Nisha Zenoff.  She attempts to answer this agonizing question: How do you live after a child dies?  I am not rushing through this book.  I am reading it with a kind of determination so its revelations sink in.  Today is the 17th anniversary of 9/11.  By this time in the afternoon the world was aware of the catastrophe engulfing our nation and the world.  Back to Dr. Zenoff's book and her question.  Thousands of deaths that day left parents and siblings wrestling with the horror of facing that question head on.  Families who were intact at 9am were shattered in an instant.  Since that odious day, thousands more have been rendered childless as a direct result of the Twin Towers collapsing. Our nation continues to face the unsettling consequences of 9/11.  Seventeen years down the road the world has not made peace with the tragedy.   Our nation is at war and it drags on as no other war in our history.  The human family is paying a price for the terrorism unleashed that fateful morning.  And there seems to be no exit.  Short of just coming home and trying to hunker down, I don't have an answer and I'm not convinced there is one that is both politically viable and financially sustainable.  I do pray we don't have to wait another seventeen years and endure the addition of more lost children to the memory of 9/11.



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Oh, for Simpler Times!

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."  Isn't it quaint how what we were taught and what we then taught our children is no longer true?  Maybe "quaint" isn't the way it should be described.  This very old bit of proverbial advice, offered to encourage forbearance and to remind our kids insults and name calling can be endured without negative effect, is now inoperative.  Words have the power to persuade, inspire, and empower.  They can still do those things.  Now there are certain words no longer permissible for use anywhere at any time.  Those now forbidden words, when spoken or written (even in error), can be fatal to one's employment and social standing.  History is littered with insults, verbal assaults, and sarcasm meant to belittle, impugn, and censure.  Once they were thought to be apt substitutes for cudgels, swords, and guns.  Not anymore.  Places of employment, entertainment, and education are now arenas of great hazard.  Oh, for simpler times.



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