Vision for Stewardship

What if we took our normal offering during worship, dumped it on the altar, and set it on fire? Wouldn’t that get an enthusiastic reaction?

The Israelites made burnt offerings to their God. They placed their offerings on an altar and burned them, letting the fire completely consume everything. But why? The only explanation seems to be that they felt the experience of sacrifice to be important. Sacrifice was an important part of their worship. They eventually realized the good of sharing those offerings with the needy, but this was just an added bonus of their sacrifices. Or what about Jacob pouring oil over a stone (Genesis 28:16-18)? Or the woman who covered Jesus’ feet with expensive ointment, instead of using the money to feed the poor? Continue reading


Confessing with a Hymn

I’m taking the diakonia class on Creeds and Confessions, taught by Pastor Marcus Felde. We’ve been asked to pick a favorite hymn and analyze the confession of faith we make with others when we sing it. And, to analyze how that hymn bespeaks my faith in Christ. I chose to reflect on ELW 796 – Will You Come and Follow Me (The Summons), with text written by John Bell and Graham Moule. The tune setting is Kelvingrove, a Scottish tune often used for the song The Shearing’s Nae for You. Continue reading

Devotion for the Japanese Marytrs

“The interpreter had placed before his feet a wooden plaque. On it was a copper plate on which a Japanese craftsman had engraved that man’s face. It was not a Christ whose face was filled with majesty anf glory; neither was it a face made beautiful by endurance of pain; nor was it a face filled with the strength of a will that has repelled temptation. The face of the man who then lay at his feet was sunken and utterly exhausted.”

“Many Japanese had already trodden on it, so that the wood surrounding the plaque was black with the print of their toes. And the face itself was concave, worn down with the constant treading. It was this concave face that had looked at the priest in sorrow. In sorrow it had gazed up at him as the eyes spoke appealingly: ‘Trample! Trample! It is to be trampled on you that I am here.'”

This passage from Silence, written by Japanese novelist Shusaku Endo, is the pivotal point of the entire novel for me. When I think of Japan, I think of technology, order, manners, and ancient traditions. Who thinks about Christ and Japan? I’d never thought about the word “apostatize”. What does it really mean? Continue reading