Thursday, September 23, 2010

Litany and Prayer for peace

One: From words and deeds that provoke discord, prejudice and hatred,
All: O God, deliver us.

One: From suspicions and fears that stand in the way of reconciliation,
All: O God, deliver us.

One: From believing and speaking lies about other peoples or nations,
All: O God, deliver us.

One: From cruel indifference to the cries of the hungry and homeless,
All: O God, deliver us.

One: From all that prevents us from fulfilling your promise of peace,
All: O God, deliver us....


"Charge our lives and our churches with the power of your peace, O God.

Overcome our fears and self-deceptions with the promise of your presence.

In this time of diminishing resources for families and nations, make us signs of your generosity and justice. Light us each day with hope so that we may walk in your truth and be love in your Name..."

Excerpt from International Day of Prayer for Peace Bulletin Insert
Lutheran Peace Fellowship

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

Our "Special Music" at Messiah Lutheran Church Sunday. Marcia at piano, Ann singing alto, Ruth and Franz sing tenor, Sally and Aurora take the soprano part (and Aurora sings a solo).

See the video:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Star Trek Anniversary

The first episode of the science fiction television series "Star Trek" aired September 8, 1966, on NBC. Now an iconic franchise including television, film and products, its initial ratings were considered low. It has been said that Lucille Ball, then head of Desilu Productions, was responsible for saving the first series from being cancelled. I would have to add, an unprecedented outpouring of letters and calls from fans helped save the show for one more (partial) season. It was only the beginning.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bishop Kanouse writes: Hospitality and Humility Shake Hands

"For a half hour or longer a completely innocent woman and her daughter were intimidated in the hot Arizona sun on the side of the road by a peace officer and for what reason? Racial profiling in Arizona? Is this what we have come to?"

Pastor Kevin Kanouse, our Northern Texas - Northern Louisiana bishop, shares a weekly devotion called "Lifelines." For next week's edition he wrote about the way a member of our synod's staff was treated on a highway in Arizona.

Read "Hospitality and Humility Shake Hands" at this link:

Bishop Kanouse writes, "Again, the law has been enforced and we have every right to write laws and enforce them. But... we've heard for two weeks that the Pharisees and religious leaders were just trying to keep the law when they made their choices, too. It's about the law, isn't it? It's all about the law...? Or is it? In our lives, Jesus expects more. As the writer to the Hebrews this weeks says it: "Let mutual love continue. Show hospitality to strangers, for in so doing some have entertained angels unawares." It is Christ's law of mutual love that we are called to obey, the law of humility, the law of empathy for our neighbor and those who are least among us.

Monday, August 23, 2010

'Coming home' five years after Katrina

NCC presents an NBC special on August 29
'Coming home' five years after Katrina struck

Five years after Hurricane Katrina, many families are still struggling to return home. "Coming Home: Hurricane Katrina 5 Years Later," is their story. []

"You have to remember one thing when you drive through my city," says Wanda, "behind every broken window...behind every boarded up empty house...There is a family trying to come home.

Wanda was one of the thousands of families left homeless or displaced following Hurricane Katrina. Five years later, some of these families are still trying to return home. The most destructive hurricane in U.S. history inspired a movement that brought thousands of volunteers from all over the world taking leave from their jobs, their families to work alongside families and communities desperately trying to return home.

The documentary -- alternately heart wrenching and deeply inspiring -- is presented by the National Council of Churches and produced by the Presbyterian Church (USA), on many NBC stations beginning August 29.

(If your local station isn't carrying this important show, call the station management and tell them how much you'd like to see it.)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Exploring the power of language used to talk about God and one another...

The National Council of Churches reports on the work of an ecumenical group that explored the power of language used to talk about God and one another.

Read the entire article:

A diverse group of Christians gathered in Chicago, August 9-11 to explore the power of language Christians use to talk about God and one another.

The participants represented a broad spectrum of ages, races, cultural backgrounds, gender, sexual orientations, abilities, denominations/communions, and professional fields.

“Our vision,” said the Rev. Ann Tiemeyer, Program Director for Women’s Ministries at the National Council of Churches, “is for many conversations that take diverse contexts seriously in exploring the power of language (words, symbols or images) and how it can be used in life-giving ways that extend the hospitality of the church’s mission within the local church and community.”

“This vision is grounded in the Gospel mandate to affirm life and carry forth the healing love of God found within the gospel of Jesus Christ in the face of the death-dealing effects of sin in our world,” Tiemeyer said.

The gathering approached language issues using a descriptive rather than a proscriptive method. The conversation was grounded in relationship and listening to each others’ stories of experiencing the power of language and the breaking through of God’s healing.

Click the link to the complete story:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gathering of Spirits Celebration

Gathering of Spirits Celebration August 28 at the Grunewald Guild -

You are invited to a very special luncheon to conclude our 30th Summer at the Grunewald Guild.

Nathan will be making a fantastic meal at 12:30 on Saturday, August 28. Don't miss it! The luncheon costs only $12, and overnight stays are available for only $30 more.

Or, stay for all of the Envisioning Week (Aug. 23-29), and enjoy Open Studios, great worship & fellowship, and participate in planning the future offerings of the Guild.

Contact us at or (509) 763-3693 for reservations.

Right Wing Blogger Provoked Attack On Islamic Center

Jim Wall sheds light on the heat.

Right Wing Blogger Provoked Attack On Islamic Center.

The conservative anger that arose in the land last summer with the false furor over the “Kill Grandma” panels, has returned in a new form.

After smoldering for many months, this years’s conservative wild fire roared into full flame after the White House iftar dinner where President Obama spoke of the right of Muslims to build an Islamic community center in New York City, two city blocks away from the site where the World Trade Center buildings were destroyed on 911.

See the entire piece at Jim's blog:

The Tears of Gaza Must Be Our Tears

Empathy is perhaps the best starting point for change.

See Chris Hedges' speech: The Tears of Gaza Must Be Our Tears

Muslim, Christian or Jew, we ignore this suffering at the peril of our own humanity. As Rachel Corrie wrote in her last letter to her parents, “I could live a comfortable life and possibly, with no effort at all, exist in complete unawareness of my participation in genocide.”

Click the link:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Master Chorale to perform Durufle Requiem

Our choir is performing on Friday night, April 30, at 7:30, in a FREE concert - no tickets required. Truett Auditorium is located at Southwestern Baptist Seminary, 2001 W. Seminary Drive, Ft. Worth, 76115. The program features the Durufle Requiem and Poulenc Organ Concerto.

For more information call 817-923-1921, ext. 6990, or email:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Preserving the enduring wisdom of women of faith

Preserving the enduring wisdom of women of faith

New York, March 3, 2010 --

In its annual commemoration of Women's History Month, the National Council of Churches paid particular attention to 20 special women whose contributions made ̶ and are continuing to make ̶ a powerful impact on our lives and faith.

Persons following the series named women who have made a special impact on their lives by contributing the "Circles of Names" campaign to support women's ministries and gender justice programs in NCC member communions .

The "Circle of Names" campaign to support women's ministries and gender justice programs in National Council of Churches member communions has been extended through Women's History Month, March 2010. See this link:

[The homepage doesn't look like much, but go to the Blog or the Photogallery for some really interesting stories.]

The campaign gives donors opportunities to support ongoing and future work by honoring women who have made a difference in the church and in individual lives. The “Circles of Names” campaign asks participants to submit the name of a woman who is or has been influential in their faith life, and to contribute $100 in that woman’s honor.

The extension of the campaign "will allow the momentum that was building at the end of 2009 to continue to spread and grow," said the Rev. Ann Tiemeyer, director of the NCC Program for Women's Ministries, and the Rev. Deborah DeWinter, NCC Director of Donor Relations, in a letter to leaders of the Circles of Names Campaign.

Last November, when the campaign was announced, Tiemeyer noted the "recent cuts to denominational budgets and staff in the areas of women’s ministries and gender justice work,” and said it was more important than ever to "make visible the broad support for this work in our communions.”

Honorary Chair of the “Wise Women’s Leadership Circle” Anne Hale Johnson provided a substantial challenge gift at the launch of the campaign.

“Her generosity has assisted in rapidly moving us toward our goal of $100,000 and 1,000 names in just 51 days,” Tiemeyer said. “Over the years Anne Hale Johnson, a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA,) has provided encouragement and support to many women leaders both in the church and in wider society.”

“We have designed the campaign in such a way as to make it possible for most people to participate,” explained Rev. Deborah DeWinter, Director of Donor Relations for the National Council of Churches. Ten people can all agree on one woman to name and each donate $10. While pledges and names are due by December 31, 2009, donors have until December 31, 2010 to submit their payments. The names will be displayed on the Circles of Names Web site, .

"The exciting thing about this campaign is that it is a women's ministry that supports woman's ministries," said DeWinter "Its very structure is symbolic of the management style of women of faith throughout history -- circles of interconnectedness that have enabled women to approach challenges and tasks together."

"Our foremothers in faith met in sewing circles, Bible study circles, mission circles, hospitality circles,” DeWinter added. “We are confident that women of faith will understand this to be a Kairos moment for the future of Women’s Ministries and gender justice work, and see this `Circles of Names' campaign to a successful conclusion.”

[News slightly adapted from NCC News]

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fair trade chocolate this Easter

Enjoy fair trade chocolate this Easter season. Support fair trade and run those cocoa producers who enslave children out of business:

Lutheran World Relief provides fair trade chocolate, milk and dark, which your congregation can provide for sale:

The dark chocolate products are especially popular at our church, Messiah Lutheran in Weatherford, Texas -

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I Am an American Soldier

Note the change in our US military's "Soldier's Creed" and its movement from soldiers to "warriors."

Prior to 2003, US troops carried this text with them at all times, harkening back to the ethical crisis of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. (

"I am an American Soldier.
I am a member of the United States Army -- a protector of the greatest nation on earth.
Because I am proud of the uniform I wear, I will always act in ways creditable to the military service and the nation it is sworn to guard.

"I am proud of my own organization. I will do all I can to make it the finest unit in the Army. I will be loyal to those under whom I serve. I will do my full part to carry out orders and instructions given to me or my unit.

"As a soldier, I realize that I am a member of a time-honored profession--that I am doing my share to keep alive the principles of freedom for which my country stands. No matter what the situation I am in, I will never do anything, for pleasure, profit, or personal safety, which will disgrace my uniform, my unit, or my country. I will use every means I have, even beyond the line of duty, to restrain my Army comrades from actions disgraceful to themselves and to the uniform.

"I am proud of my country and its flag. I will try to make the people of this nation proud of the service I represent, for I am an American Soldier."

Contrast that statement with this, the current version implemented by Donald Rumsfeld in 2003. Note the transformation of our soldiers into machines and the removal of any reference to restraint or never disgracing the uniform or our country: (

"I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills. I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier."

A video of British journalst Robert Fisk discussing the the changes to the Soldier's Creed can be found here:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

LAWG says: Tell your friends to lend a helping hand to Haiti

Tell your friends to lend a helping hand to Haiti. This excellent message is from the Latin America Working Group (LAWG).

LAWG's Lisa Haugard writes:

"Many walk the streets, some barefoot, balancing on their heads bags containing what belongings they could grab before they fled and clutching plastic containers for water," says Oxfam's Catherine Gluck from Port au Prince, Haiti. "Large numbers are also wearing masks to stop inhaling the thick grey smoke that lingered long after the quake. The masks also offered some protection from the thick stench of dead bodies that lined the streets in the immediate aftermath of the quake and are still turning up wrapped in sheets or pieces of clothing." (Oxfam:

Please share this message, with a list of organizations supporting relief efforts, to your friends and family!

I went searching for words like these that would convey the scope of the damage. But sometimes only photos can convey the scope of the horror, like this photo essay in the Boston Globe -

And then there are the mind-numbing numbers:
50,000 to 200,000 dead
300,000 living homeless in the streets of Port au Prince

Like us, we know you are asking, What can I do to help? We're glad the Obama Administration has taken first steps, such as immediately pledging $100 million in emergency relief and extending Temporary Protective Status for Haitians in the United States, halting deportations for 18 months.

In the weeks to come, we will ask you to urge the White House and Congress to provide generous, well-directed emergency and long-term reconstruction aid that will truly help Haitians rebuild their lives. It will be important to ensure aid is provided in an empowering way. This call for Haiti relief to be grounded in transparency, human rights principles and respect for the dignity of Haitian people by Partners in Health/ Zanmi Lasante and other groups is a good place to start -

But right now, the most important action is to give, and to encourage your friends and family to give. (But in this case, not to LAWG: we do not provide direct relief!) Below is a list of partners in the LAWG coalition who are acceptiong donations for Haiti relief efforts -

Also, please forward this message and direct your friends and family to the list below, or other good effective relief groups, and encourage them to give. In my neighborhood in Silver Spring, Maryland, there are many people with families in Haiti. My heart goes out to them and to all those in affected by this devastating disaster.

Best, Lisa Haugaard

Here are some of our partners who participate in the LAWG coalition who are providing relief. Please donate to them or to any other effective organization of your choice supporting relief efforts in Haiti.

American Jewish World Service
Catholic Relief Services
Church World Service
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America/Action by Churches Together
Jesuit Refugee Service USA
Lutheran World Relief
Mennonite Central Committee
Oxfam America
Quixote Center
United Methodist Church
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee/UUA
United Church of Christ

In addition, these are two effective organizations providing emergency medical relief: Partners in Health
Doctors Without Borders

Latin America Working Group
424 C Street NE, Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 546-7010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

NCC leaders condemn attacks on Christians in Egypt

National Council of Churches leaders condemn attacks on Christians in Egypt

New York, January 15, 2010 --

The National Council of Churches USA has sent messages of solidarity and support to leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church following attacks on Christians in Egypt.

In Egypt, where the Coptic Orthodox Church celebrated Christmas on January 7 (following the old Julian and Coptic calendars), seven people were murdered following a midnight Divine Liturgy in Nag Hamadi, Qena in Upper Egypt. According to press reports, riots then erupted during the funeral processions for six of the seven victims of the massacre. Six of the seven victims were Coptic Christians; the seventh victim was a Muslim.

In a message sent to H.G. Bishop Serapion of Los Angeles, Coptic Orthodox Church, and to Subdeacon Bishoy M. Mikhail, Ecumenical Officer of the Church, the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon wrote: "On behalf of your brothers and sisters in the National Council of Churches, I want to assure you of our prayers following the death of Coptic Orthodox Christians this week in Egypt. May God receive them into glory, and may God grant peace to our violent and fragmented world." Kinnamon also lamented the death of the Muslim victim.

Other church leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI, also condemned the violence against Christians in Egypt.

Kinnamon condemned the attacks as a flagrant denial of the love of God as testified to in the New Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures and the Qur'an. "Violence in God's name is not only an obvious corruption of Scripture, it demonstrates an appalling disregard for the loving and just God who commands us to live together in peace," Kinnamon said. "What is especially painful is that this recent violence took place during a celebration of the birth of the one who Christians call the Prince of Peace and who Muslims call a holy prophet."

NCC News contact: Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) ,

Friday, January 8, 2010

Jim Wall points to `Avatar' and a teachable moment

Jim Wall writes about Avatar and a teachable moment:

At a special morning New Year’s Eve screening in Hawaii, President Obama took his family to the mall to see the new 3-D movie, Avatar. Whose idea was that?

Did the leader of the Free World realize he was going to experience a “teachable moment”? Along with millions of movie-going families from Kansas to Qatar to Quebec, the Obama family found itself in Pandora, a lush jungle on a distant moon where the Na’vi tribes live in harmony with all living things.

The time is the future, 2154 to be precise, and the Na’vi live on land coveted by outsiders who have the military might to take their land from them.

Oh boy. Who among the Chicago nerds and political operatives who help the president organize his day, understood that Avatar could become a Teachable Moment for Obama, and the world.

The president likes Teachable Moments, when he recognizes them. Remember how effectively he turned all that negative publicity about his pastor into a serious discussion of race in America?
And remember how badly he missed another Teachable Moment when President Jimmy Carter came to his defense and described right-wing attacks on him as “racist”, which they were? Obama had his White House issue a statement disassociating the president from Carter’s defense.

Avatar now offers him the same opportunity. This is a Teachable Moment he should not reject. Maybe a special screening in the White House with some kind words for director James Cameron?

What viewers of Avatar discover is that the film immediately suggests the oppression of Native Americans by the US government, because the Na’vi and the land on which they live share a spiritual bond. The film also evokes the Vietnam War because the setting of the military struggle is a lush jungle.

Gaza, Afghanistan and its neighbor Pakistan, are mountainous; there are no jungles. The dominant indigenous religion of Gaza and Af-Pak is Muslim, but like the Na’vi, the inhabitants live on land the outside invaders wish to control.

For the full commentary, go to Jim's Blog: