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Archive for July, 2007

Paul Burdette McCain, 1934-2007

July 6th, 2007 36 comments

The most important man in my life, my father, died today, at around 4:20 p.m. after being diagnosed with lung cancer over a year ago. What a blessing to have had him this long after that diagnosis, which, as you can imagine led to an ugly, though mercifully brief, end. But I must say that watching him over the last four days slowly come to the end of his earthly life was the most painful and yet deeply and richly meaningful thing I’ve ever experienced. Beautiful moments indeed. When one of us asked him, "Dad, are you looking forward to meeting Jesus?" He said, in a slow, small whisper to which he had been reduced, "I already have." And how wonderful to hear him say again, "I love you."

I held my dad in my arms as he took his last breath, even as he held me in his arms shortly after I took my first breaths, and most importantly as he held me during my baptism, something not at all common in 1962 when the thing to do was to have the female godparent hold the child. But my father insisted on holding his son as he was brought into the kingdom of God through the washing of water and the word. And it was my father who first placed my Lord’s body into my mouth when I received Holy Communion at my confirmation, as he assisted the pastor in distributing the elements. I remember looking up at him and seeing the tears in his eyes.

My father was the principal of the Lutheran school where the very first Bible verse I was required to memorize was: "God is love" and the second: "We love God, because He first loved us." As these beautiful truths were unfolded the faith given me in Baptism I was deeply routed in Christ and His Gospel. Profoundly rooted through the nurture of my parents and my Lutheran school teachers.

My parents literally scraped by to provide for me and my brother in a time when Lutheran teacher salaries were worse than they are today, and if you know much about Lutheran teacher salaries, you have some idea of just how low their salaries were. But I had no idea how poor we were, for I recall only very, very happy memories of a loving father and mother.

I remember fondly sitting nestled next to my father in church, in the very first pew of church, on the left side, where I now sit with my family. People wonder why we sit there. I’ve always sat there, and it began next to my father.

My father set an example to me of absolute devotion and dedication to God’s Holy Word and the Lutheran Confessions, instilling and nurturing and encouraging in me a deep love of Lutheranism. He set an example for me of how one lives as a Christian husband and father. A Christian husband who loved his wife with honor, respect, devotion and kindness. My parents had a partnership that I’ve rarely witnessed in any other couple. They provided together a warm, loving home to my brother and me. He devoted his whole life to work in the church, serving as a Lutheran principal and school teacher. My mother’s and father’s example of service to Christ and His church, unselfish, total service, is why I decided to become a pastor. And then, my father, watching me attend the seminary, decided himself to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a pastor and so, at age 50, picked up and left his home of 26 years, to attend the seminary. What fun it was to attend seminary at about the same time. I was the upper classman! I even was able to preach his ordination sermon. My father startled a few of his fellow seminary students when the other men heard him slip once in public and say to me, "See you later, sweetheart," one of his many terms of endearment for his sons! He caught quite a bit of good-natured ribbing that day, and he just smiled and the men smiled too, nodding knowingly of the special love between father and son. My dad was a strong, tough man, with a loving, tender nature.

During his years of service in Pensacola, Florida he patiently and persistently worked toward the integration of black and white teachers in a time when such behaviors resulted, not infrequently, in cross burnings in the front yard. He was not doing it to "make a statement" but simply because Christians do not treat their fellow men as anything less than fully human, and Christian brothers and sisters even more so. It was a time in our country where a little boy could take a drink from the "black only" fountain at the Sears Roebuck, with the permission and encouragement of his mother, only to have the sales clerk nearby glare and say, "That’s only for blacks!" My mother responded, "Is the water any different?" He stood by a white man who hired black people, encouraging him to remain strong, even when his store was burned to the ground by racists.

My father was beloved by students, parents, coworkers and members of the congregations he served as a pastor in Indiana and Michigan.

My father was a model husband, father, teacher, pastor and Christian. Sons, of course, tend to put their fathers on pedestals. And may our good and gracious God grant to all Christian fathers the faith, confession and virtues that justify the high regard in which their little boys hold them, so that they, like me continue to hold them in that same high regard. May God grant my father peace eternal! I love you Dad. You loving son, Paul

PS — Several lessons learned through this experience:

God used my dad to teach me how to die. Thanks be to God for that.

The classic Lutheran chorales are the greatest sermons ever preached.

The Pastoral Care Companion is a priceless treasure.

Pastors: please never forget that you visit a home at at time like this you are truly Jesus to the family. You come in his stead, and by his command. You bring us His word of Absolution and His body and blood, which you put into our grieving and hurting bodies and souls. What a blessed ministry you have. What a wonderfully peace-giving and calming presence you bring when you bring us Jesus and the power of His resurrection as we watch our loved ones fading away.

What indescribable comfort the Gospel is.

Categories: Weblogs

Fascinating Interview with Conservative Episcopalian Bishop Akinola

July 6th, 2007 Comments off

This a truly fascinating interview with the Nigerian Episcopalian Archbishop.

Categories: Uncategorized

Donnfried’s Response to article in “The Lutheran”

July 6th, 2007 Comments off

I received this e-mail from Karl Donnfried responding to an article that appeared in the July 2007 issue of The Lutheran reporting on his speech. He addresses several points of very serious inaccuracies in the coverage The Lutheran gave to his speech. I do not have access to the article in The Lutheran, which does not make articles from current issues available on the Internet.

Donfried’s response to the July 2007 issue of The Lutheran‎

July 4, 2007

Dear Mr. Lehmann,

I would like to make three responses to comments made inthe July, 2007, issue of The Lutheran with regard to my address to the WordAlone national convention. But before I do so I want to share with you my high regard for your editorial leadership of this important voice of the ELCA and to say how honored I have been both to write for your periodical and to work closely with your outstanding editorial colleagues. Thank you for this excellent ministry.

Before embarking on my response I should say that I was privileged, especially as a non-member of WordAlone, to be invited to be in dialogue with this remarkable group of faithful and committed Lutherans. My complete lecture can be found on their website and your readers should know where it can be read in its entirety so that they might be able to reach their own conclusions as to what I actually said on that occasion.

1. In Gayle Aldrich’s article on WordAlone she gives the impression of citing two paragraphs from my address by the explicit use of quotation marks. Yet the first and longer paragraph cannot be found in my lecture; it simply is not there. What we apparently have here is Ms. Aldrich’s compilation and interpretation, often incorrect and misleading, of remarks made at different points in the hour-long address. This deception, coupled with her second brief quotation removed fully from its pastoral and academic context, can have only one goal, whether intended or not: to mislead your readers.

2. Timothy Wengert, a distinguished and highly respected colleague of mine, appears to be responding to Gayle Aldrich’s skewed summary falsely attributed to me rather than to my complete text. This is, of course, unfortunate, since it overlooks the detailed theological and academic nature of my remarks. Professor Wengert seems to have overlooked my citation of Luther’s own harsh words about those who misinterpret Scripture when he advises us to take seriously Luther’s exposition of the eighth commandment in the matters at hand. While fully respecting the eighth commandment, I would, with Luther and the Heidelberg Disputation, agree that a theologian of the Church Catholicis required to "call a thing what it actually is" and to point out false teaching for the purpose of public discussion and dialogue. I should also mention that not one reviewer of my Who Owns the Bible? Toward the Recovery of a Christian Hermeneutic (Crossroad, 2006) has referred to the key phrase "alien hermeneutics" as "incendiary." Such language only engenders false and misleading impressions.

3. In your own editorial comments you indicate that my remarks were "alarming" because they "just ramp up discord,stoking even more invective" serving only "to divide, not reconcile or correct." Personal judgments such as these are unfortunate since they never deal with the substance of my argument nor recognize the ecumenical and reconciling nature of my forty-three years of ordained ministry. The very point of my WordAlone lecture was to deepen our understanding of "Scripture as the Presence of Christ" by correcting those tendencies in the ELCA that undermine, intentionally or not, the reconciling and redeeming power of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sincerely in Christ,

(The Rev. Canon) Karl P. Donfried, Dr. theol.

CC: Gayle Aldrich, Timothy Wengert, Mark Hanson, LowellAlmen

[Donfried's address is at:http://www.wordalone.org/docs/wa-donfried-2007.shtml ]

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Categories: Lutheranism

Pastors and Whining

July 5th, 2007 3 comments

I can think of few things more distasteful than pastors who indulge themselves in pity-parties and whining. I picked up this comment from a blog site recently that I really agree with:

Do not complain about how busy you are … or about how poor you are … or about how sick you are … if you do, you will gain the pity of old women, and lose the respect of young women and old men, and you will join the party of ne’er-do-well middle-aged male malcontents, who will be happy to welcome you as their chaplain.

Categories: Uncategorized

Oh, yea, like this is a good idea

July 5th, 2007 8 comments

An LCMS congregation is advertising "dream interpretation" on its web site. One must wonder if there are any "Josephs" in that congregation who tell people that they are going to be executed soon? Where does this screwball nonsense come from? When people’s spiritual lives are not deeply rooted in Word and Sacrament, they will resort to foolishness like this.

Categories: Uncategorized

A Must Read Speech by Karl Donfried

July 5th, 2007 2 comments

Recently at a gathering of the ELCA group, "Word Alone" Dr. Karl Donfried delivered what is truly an outstanding speech, which we all do well to read and study carefully. In no way should any non-ELCA Lutheran read this speech and cluck, "Well, I certainly thank God that we are not like those people in the ELCA." No, friends, we need to read this and see where, and how, and why, what Donfriend warns about has infected us all. For we all live, move and have our being in the atmosphere of modern hermeneutics and are threatened by it constantly. Click the extended entry for the paper:

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Categories: Uncategorized

Ask a Ninja

July 1st, 2007 1 comment

The Internet is a great place for information of all kinds. Sure, you’ve got your "Google" and your "Ask.com" and your "Yahoo" and your "Jeeves" and your "Wikipedia" and what not. Plus, of course, Drudge and about a gazillion blogs, but for me one of the most interesting and helpful sources of knowledge about everything is Ask a Ninja.com If you do not know the Ninja, well, that’s because Ninjas are masters of secrecy, of course. So that’s why I’m telling you about the Ninja. Let me let you in on a little secret: some of the most hilarious stuff on the Internet is from the Ninja. I’ve been following the Ninja for about a year now. Here’s a couple samples:

Categories: Uncategorized