HOPE for the HAPLESS

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12


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The Elephant in the Room …

The Calgary Zoo Statue

The Calgary Zoo Statue

Christian group condemns zoo’s elephant sculpture

A three metre-tall statue of a dancing elephant was donated to the zoo for the opening of its Elephant Crossing exhibit in 2006. It was commissioned to look like Ganesh, a Hindu god worshipped as a remover of obstacles. But Laurie Herron, a Calgary Zoo spokeswoman, said all religious symbolism on the statue was omitted before it was allowed to be displayed. Jim Blake, national chair of Concerned Christians Canada, sent a letter to the zoo on Thursday, calling for the sculpture to be removed.

Zoo officials defend elephant statue

Officials at the Calgary Zoo say an elephant statue modeled after a Hindu god will stay right where it is. Concerned Christians Canada has sent a letter to zoo officials, asking that the sculpture be removed.The group says that such religious symbols are inappropriate. Graham Newton, a zoo official, says the statue is dedicated to honouring Asian culture because it’s set up near the Asian elephant enclosure.Newton says the symbolic elephant statue has a connection with Asian culture, much like the bald eagle has come to represent the United States. He says there have only been a handful of complaints, but adds most zoo patrons like the statue.

A Religiously "Significant" Ganesh

A Religiously "Significant" Ganesh

Can we talk about the elephant in the room? Sure we can … but only if we do so out of both sides of our trunk!

Here is yet again, a sad and bitter reminder of the blatant double standard that prevails in our country today.

It was commissioned just for the opening of new exhibit, and intentionally modeled after the god Ganesh precisely for its religious meaning as one who overcomes obstacles. This much is admitted, but then spokespersons turn around and say that it is purely a cultural honourific, not a religious symbol. Indeed, all the religious meaning has been removed from it, except what it represents and why it does so …

Perhaps someone could explain to me how this second statue, not of an elephant in the style of Ganesh, but an actual statue of Ganesh differs enough that I should know when one has religious implications and one does not, because it is only giving a nod to the culture.

Consider also, that since it was only a small number of complaints, it would be silly to acknowledge that real people have been offended … unlike most every time a Christian symbol is publicly brought down for being offensive to small – but important – segments of our society.  Apparently, Christians in any number just aren’t that important in public decision-making or accountability any more.

Keep your statue if you like dear Calgary Zoo. It has done its job of bringing media attention to your newly expanded exhibit. But at least have the decency to be honest about who you choose to offend, and why you think it is OK. People have long memories too.

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Rejoicing in the Routine!

routinesWhat a whirlwind the past couple of weeks has been!

Many wonderful things have conspired to rob my household of its normalcy … its routine.  The birth of my daughter, the house full of visitors – family and friends.  Baptisms, entertaining, visiting, playing catch-up.

It has been a real roller coaster of fun and excitement …and tears and blow-ups and melt-downs.

And I wish I was only talking about the children.  Psychologists will tell you that even good things can become big stresses in a person’s life.  I always knew that (sort of) but now, with a deeper understanding.    Been there and done that, as the saying goes.  Can there be such a thing as too much of a good thing?

I don’t think so … but I do think that without the proper framework, all that good begins to overwhelm us, where otherwise it might have had better effect.  I saw this particularly in the reactions of myself and my kids.  With each new passing day there was some new adventure, some new opportunity, some new strange and wonderful thing to see or do.  But it got hard to enjoy it all. The framework wasn’t there to help us assimilate and appreciate it all.

Bedtimes were rewritten, schedules reshuffled, priorities turned upside down in an attempt to take it all in. And in the end, this actually kept us from getting the most out of it all.  A person, whether 3 or 39, needs a routine, to help them make sense of everything they take in.  Take away the routine and you take away the framework upon which we hang everything, thus allowing us to make sense of it all … allowing us to truly appreciate it all.  We need time to adjust, digest, remember, focus, and appreciate the good that comes our way.  Having a routine does all that.

It gave me a new appreciation for the Liturgy of the Church.  God knows what He’s doing!

Each Sunday God has so many wonderful gifts to give us, so much good news for us.  But He is careful to hand it out in a way that isn’t always new and novel.  He provides a wonderfully routine framework on which to hang it all, appreciate it all, make sense of it all.  In the Ordinaries of the day (all those parts of the service that don’t change from week to week) God provides an invaluable tool for truly appreciating the freshness of the particular gifts He provides in the Propers of the day (those parts of the service that do change from service to service).  The latter gives us new opportunities to rejoice and celebrate the many and varied gifts and mercies of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord, but the former keeps us from becoming overwhelmed, and gives us the ability to absorb it in a meaningful way.

After the last few weeks of crazy blessings I’ve had, I am happy to say that this Sunday I will be appreciating the blessing of God’s routine, in a way I haven’t before.  Here’s to rejoicing in the routine of God’s gifts in the Liturgy of His Holy Church!


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A WORD for the ELCA

elcaI know that by now this is no longer “news” for many, but sometimes – with sad news – I need time to ponder and percolate.  For me the Old Testament readings over the past two weeks have been a very powerful commentary by our Lord on all that has happened in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America … and their heart-wrenching decision to abandon the clear words of Holy Scripture.

Deuteronomy 4:1  “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2  You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you … 6  Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7  For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 8  And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today? 9  “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children–

Isaiah 29:11  And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” 12  And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.” 13  And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, 14  therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” 15  Ah, you who hide deep from the LORD your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” 16  You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? 17  Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest? 18  In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.
Isa 29:19  The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.

You see, what is at the heart of the matter is not our love for one another, but GOD’S love for us.  A love that warns us away from all that would harm our eternal welfare.  God’s Word is never ever in the habit of condoning sin, because any sin – All Sin – is an affront to God.  God’s Word is His revealed love for us … A love that calls sin, SIN … but then sends His precious Son to pay for that sin to forgive that sin. Lose, change or ignore the first and you forfeit the second!

But here are some quotes that say it much better than me:

“The ELCA Confession of Faith says that Scripture is ‘source and norm’ of the church’s faith and life, but this assembly has shown that the ELCA is willing to violate what it officially says it believes about the Bible,” Schwarz said. “It is appalling that ELCA leaders brought these proposals to a vote. The church should not be voting on whether or not to follow the teaching of the Bible.” “Luther’s stand was on the Word of God and sound reason. He was not convinced then, and we are not convinced now. We just voted out the Word of God, sound reason and the good orders of creation,” said Jaynan Clark of Spokane, Wash., president of the WordAlone Network. -Lutheran Coalition for Reform

This is not about sexuality or homosexuality. Some will try to make it about this but that is not the cause of such great sadness and distance. No, what is the greater issue here is the way in which a church body has disconnected its current life and confession from Scripture and its Confessions. This is the real issue. It is not about gays or lesbians but about the choice to make the gospel (small g in this case) a principle instead of a message and to set this principle of tolerance, acceptance, liberation, and freedom against the clear passages of Scripture which clearly define sexuality within the context of male and female, marriage and family. For in setting up the rationale for this departure from what Christianity has always understood, the ELCA has put into place the very mechanism to depart from the very Gospel (big G – meaning the cross and empty tomb) itself. This is the inevitable outcome when gospel becomes the legitimacy for any new understanding or new idea that once was clearly prohibited in Scripture and tradition. Indeed the real issue is what do we have left when gospel stands in opposition to the clear words of Scripture? Surely it is the Gospel — the message of Jesus Christ and the salvation He won for us by His death and resurrection — that is lost when the church has the freedom to oppose Scripture or to disregard what Scripture has clearly said and the Church believed for two millenia (and longer in the OT). -Pastor Peters

There are some fine documents in the LCMS that  state positively what we believe, teach, and confess (in accord with Scripture). I offer you links to several of those below:
1. Marriage and Human Sexuality
2. Legislation Regarding Same Sex Unions
3. What About Homosexuality
4. Ministry Plan to Homosexuals
5. Initial Response to the ELCA Proposal
6. The Contemporary Debate on Homosexual Clergy

I would also encourage you to read the official position of my own Lutheran Church Canada:

A Statement From Lutheran Church Canada

I pray that my fellow brothers and sisters (not just in the ELCA, not just in Lutheranism but in all of Christianity) would consider again the clear Words of God on this, and every topic of life, faith, and church policy.  THe traditions of men may seem just and fair and loving and kind and all sorts of other virtuous things rolled into one … but none of that matters if it flys in the face of God and His will revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures.  God’s Word will remain forever, but the decisions of men will fade like yesterday’s news.

Listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you.   You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you …   Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.