Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

Forgiveness

Posted: 6 September 2016 in Ramblings

A meditation on Matthew 6:14-15, Luke 6:37-38 & Matthew 18:15-17

Forgiveness is something which is not easy to do for we ‘poor miserable sinners’.  The concept has been completely forgotten by our post-modern culture.  As disagreeing sides in the political, business, family, and yes, faith environments face off, it seems that no one forgives the sin which they have perceived has been committed against them.

 Even if Christians do not daily pray the prayer our Lord taught us to pray as they should, most churches pray that prayer in the exercise of their Sunday services.  Each time we pray that prayer, we ask our Heavenly Father:

 Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. [Matthew 6:12]

 Do we mean those words when they are verbally, or at least mentally spoken to our Heavenly Father?  These words don’t say, ‘forgive us our sins as we forgive those who apologize to us’, they don’t say, ‘forgive us our sins as we forgive those things which we get over’, and they don’t say “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who agree with us.”  No, we say “those who sin against us.”  There is no exception, nor are there rules to follow to ensure we do it correctly.    We are simply meant to forgive.  Period.

 If we take our Divinely taught prayer-lesson to heart and walk through Scripture, it is found that there are warnings given us by our Savior that underline the importance of heeding the words which He has given us.  For example:  Matthew 6, Luke 6 and Matthew 18. Now, scholars have historically taught that the Matthew 6 and Luke 6 passages are actually the same lesson written, through the leadings of the Holy Spirit, by two different authors.  Yet, Matthew 18 is the traditional lesson taught regarding how one must deal with that sin which has been perceived from a brother or sister-in-Christ.

 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. [Matthew 6 (ESV)]

 A first glance should cause the fact to be noticed that this reference immediately follows the prayer which our Lord has given us.  In other words, this is not a ‘separate’ lesson, but rather a continuation of the explanation of how to pray.

 37 Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. [Luke 6 (ESV)]

 This Luke passage is part of that which is called the beatitudes and, for some, takes more effort to see the lesson of forgiveness, since our Lord does not instruct in 21st century sentence structure.  To clarify, we will not be judged/condemned [only] if we do not judge/condemn.  If we forgive, [only] then will we be forgiven.  If we withhold a measure of forgiveness from someone (anyone!), that lack of forgiveness will be measured back to us.  In simpler terms, ‘if you withhold forgiveness, then it will be withheld from you.’

 And how is this forgiveness to be sought and given, especially among brothers and sisters-in-Christ?  For that, we walk back to Matthew immediately after our Lord teaches the parable of the lost sheep which is an illustration of what He (& we should) do as someone wanders away from their loving Good Shepherd.

 15 If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. [Matthew 18 (ESV)]

 Simply stated, we should not go to anyone else when we are offended before we speak to the offender in private.  That conversation should happen in love, not in anger.  The idea is not to put a chip on our shoulder, march up to the one who we believe has offended, draw a line in the sand, and demand an apology.  All this does is set up the conversation for failure in the eyes of our Lord.  Only after an attempt (or several?) should we approach one or two others with the problem, and then as a last resort the entire congregation should be involved.  And yes, it does say “the church”.  After all we are all one in the Body of Christ, and He has instructed us to remove unrepentant sinners from our midst which greatly pains Him.  Yet, it is His instruction.

 We have recognized here from Holy Scripture that forgiveness is to be given to people for anything they have done.  Although the Matthew 18 passage speaks of how to indicate to a brother or sister-in-Christ that a sin has been perceived, there is really no indication of how to give it.  For that, let’s consider the example of Peter repenting of his denial of Christ to his resurrected Lord in John 21.

 If anyone believes or has been informed that someone has felt offended, every effort should be made to seek that person’s forgiveness.  Although our sinful pride may try to validate our sin, efforts should be taken to not do so.  When we approach those who have felt the offense, we should also endeavor to use the words “apologize” or “sorry” AND “forgive”.  Simply stated as example, “I believe I have sinned against you and truly apologize for it.  Do you forgive me?”

 Of course, it is best if the offended reciprocates explicitly with the words “I forgive you.”  Statements like “that’s okay” or “sure”, or “just forget it” do not communicate forgiveness.  Conversation immediately following should not rehash the disagreement, nor should it dwell on the repentance and forgiveness recently offered and given.  Just as in the liturgy, repentance and confession is offered, forgiveness is specifically given, then the glory of God is recognized. For, as Matthew continues in chapter 18:

 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 

 As we forgive one another’s sins, so does our Heavenly Father forgive us.

My Refuge, My Portion

Posted: 31 March 2016 in Ramblings

A Meditation on Psalm 142 [ESV]

We all have those days, weeks, or months, don’t we?  Those times when we throw our hands up and say, “What else can happen?” or “I can’t handle one more thing!”  Those times when we feel alone in a crowded room, surrounded by those who care for us, yet we seemingly have no one who can truly identify with our troubles, since they are – after all – our troubles.  Unique to our situation or so it seems.  We step into those traps that grab us during our moments of self-centered worry, when there seems to be no respite, no relief, and no refuge during those times of increasing difficulty, illness, or private guilt.

With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.
I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.

When my spirit faints within me, you know my way!
In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;  no one cares for my soul.

 These words of the psalmist, given to us by the Holy Spirit, offer reason for us to reflect on those times when we are trying to “do it” ourselves.  When we are standing up and shaking our fist at the sky in tearful anger, perhaps we should remember that our Heavenly Father is with us.  When we cry out to Him, He hears our plea.  When we look to Calvary, to the cross atop that mountain, we realize that our hill isn’t nearly as insurmountable as we might have thought.  Although it seems to us that no one notices or cares, He cares.

 I cry to you, O Lord;

I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low!
Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me!

 Our Heavenly Father is listening when we cry out.   He offers that much needed refuge.  All we need do is recognize that through Him the mountains of difficulty in front of us are made into foothills, perhaps even meadows.  They are not insurmountable in His eyes.  He will give us a portion of His strength necessary to confront the plans of the evil one who seeks to devour us.  He will grant us the perseverance to get through the darkened places which we walk, seeking only His light and comfort.

Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name!
The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.

 

As we reach the open meadow prepared for us by His Holy Spirit, it is like stepping out of a prison which the sin of the world has constructed around us.  As we return to the light of our Risen Lord, we give thanks for the gift of forgiveness which Christ has provided for us on the Cross.  It is then we realize that God has provided not only that forgiveness for our sin, but a blessed righteousness promised to us without measure.  For we know that when our days in this world of tears end, He will call each of us to Himself promising a resurrection as beautiful and bountiful as that of His beloved Son.

 

  Published in the Shepherd’s Staff newsletter

of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church

April 2016 Edition

Wait (Psalm 130)

Posted: 4 April 2014 in Ramblings

Predawn-water

1Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
2O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

How many times have I held this passage close? How many times in the last decade have I quietly cried out to God, pleading that the wait be over? Every time the dawn was approaching; the dawn that I thought would bring good news to my ears, there was silence. Seemingly an answer of “no.” Or maybe just “not yet” ? My first, southern-raised response is “what have I done to cause you, O God, to turn away?” Yet, my training, Scripture and the ever present Holy Spirit remind me that He has not forsaken me. He only asks me to wait. Longer.

3If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.

I am a worm. An undeserving sinner who has struggled with anger and angst regarding those who seemingly want only to thwart the path which was laid out before me what seems now so long ago. Thanks be to God, I have been given the strength to overcome those sins of anger, yet there are other sins which just won’t go away. If it were up to me….I would surely die a miserable death…over and over and over again. Yet, just as I have forgiven the sins which have been [unwittingly?] committed against me, my sins have been forgiven me by my Lord Jesus Christ. I know this because that voice which speaks from the Word reassures me. He reassures me not only of the forgiveness of my sins, but that my wait is almost over. Almost.

5I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

As a military man, I know what it feels like to wait for the morning. During that wait, the watchman quietly thinks of events of the previous day and night. And he anticipates the future in the pre-dawn haze. Think on your life for a moment. Think of those events which mark what has made you who you are. Especially those which you were required to wait for. Even those events that would have the length of the wait determined by others. You knew what the result was going to be not by intellectual thought, not by educated reasoning and not because science explained when the wait would be over. You just knew. And you anticipated the end of the wait so much that you related every thought to what would happen after the wait was over. Yet…you were still waiting for the dawn. As do I.

7O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
8And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.

Israel of old were the people of God. Just like each and every congregation of the Church are exactly that. God’s people. Many struggle with things which cause them to wait. Sometimes it’s internal finances. Sometimes administrative actions of their local leaders. Sometimes it is the decisions of people whom they don’t even know. Still …. they wait. During this wait their anticipation, their collective anger and angst can become unbearable. Yet, I would suggest they hold these words of the psalmist close. Pray on them at every opportunity. The love which God has for you is immeasurable. His promised redemption, o congregation, is just over the horizon. He has and will continue to pronounce your absolution at every dawn. Not only has He redeemed you from your iniquities with the blood of the Lamb, He has also given you an ever present Shepherd. Eventually…soon…the one whom He has called into your midst as His under shepherd will be given the opportunity to respond. Your wait will be over. And so will mine. Thanks be to God the Father, who with God the Son and God the Holy Spirit hear our cries for mercy…and answers them.

In Jesus most Holy Name.
Amen +

Be Still !! (Psalm 46)

Posted: 11 March 2014 in Ramblings

BeStill2

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
although the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
[Psalm 46:1-3, 8-11 ESV]

As particularly unfavorable news comes from family, our doctors or from those who represent us in certain matters, our situation seems to darken.  We recognize that in our human state, we are helpless regardless of the situation.

As we look into that dark valley of Psalm 23, the valley spoke of seems much more concrete.  The writer of Psalm 46; however, points out who can help us now.  God.  “God is our refuge and strength.”  Any negative experience inflicted on us now is a glimpse ahead to the calamity that will come at the end of the world.  The effects of sin are so great in this world.  Those effects remind us that the end is coming although when we do not know.  It is a warning to us not to put our complete trust in anyone except God Himself.

God says to His people, “Do not fear.”  Though  the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the depths of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, and the mountains quake – as the medical news isn’t good, as evil manifests down upon us…the Lord continues to say to us,

Be Still !

And know that I am God.”

Evil may have its little day, but God has met it at the Cross, where our Savior Jesus Christ confronted the enemy…and defeated him.  Evil forces in our world have met their defeat.  They threaten and try to terrify us, but God has conquered them and His kingdom has come and will remain forever.  What Are We to Do ?
Trust in God.  Do not give in to fear.  Keep up our daily routines.  Devote ourselves to Scripture, to prayer and to joining together in worship  Remember our leaders and pray for them.  Reach out to the suffering and to those who mourn.  Pray for those who are experiencing our dark valley and even those who have valleys of their own.  Ask the Lord to enable His Church to speak the comforting Word of peace in Christ Jesus, so that in the midst of the suffering in the world, we may know that Jesus is the true source of peace in all trials and dangers.
Our world is not a safe place.  Yet, God would have us trust in Him to keep us safe for this He will do.

+ in nomine jesu +

Amen.

God Meant it for Good

Posted: 20 October 2013 in Ramblings

Coat-ManyColorsSitting here watching a wonderful teaching video by Rev. Ernie Lassman (Messiah-Seattle, WA). Pastor Lassman is giving a correct, yet paraphrased story of Joseph as a means to illustrate the Genesis 50:20 textual quote of Joseph to his brothers: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Tears in my eyes as I hear this lesson as parallel to my situation as well as that of my ordained brothers’ who are awaiting their return into a parish call. My goal of entering into the OHM was not my idea or any others’ who presently walk this planet, but rather that of the One whom I have been called to follow. St Paul tells me in Romans 5:3-5: “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Therefore, I struggle to live by St Paul’s words of Colossians 4:2-4: “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.”

I pray that one day soon, those who lord it over decisions I am not privy to would see themselves as they read the words of our Savior recorded in Mark 10:42: “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them…” as well as Father Luther’s words in Part III-Article X of the Smalcald Articles. Perhaps they too might be brought to tears and see their proper role of ‘enabling’ those of us who seek only the Holy Will of the One whom has called us all into His Grace and service.

Lord, have mercy. Amen

NOTE: Oddly, I  posted this to  FB on 20 October before I considered posting it here.  Unfortunately, I  have not  been able to post any of this year’s sermons, perhaps that will change in the  not  too distant future.  God’s peace to everyone.

The Long and Winding Road

Posted: 16 May 2011 in Ramblings

How should Christians approach Islam?  This is an interesting question, perhaps the most poignant question of the 21st century.  With the new century beginning with possibly the single biggest event to be framed by the two religious groups, people have been looking for ways to  answer this question in such a way to curtail the violence which has been prevalent since the fourth century.  There are many facets to the issue and no true ‘easy’ answer.  Perhaps the best place to begin the topic is to ask what should the Christians do before approaching Islam?  That question can be answered with more succinct points such as:  First, Christians which choose to be involved in the ambassadorship must become very familiar with their own faith; second, they must take an academic approach to what Islam believes based on the Qur’an; third, they must take a painfully slow approach to open dialogue with those who call themselves Muslims.  Only after these starting points are fully developed and carried out should Christians attempt to approach those who follow Islam.  Relations with Muslims will only be harmed if Christianity makes a full-force, frontal attack to ‘convert’ those who have chosen to follow Muhammad.

The first step is absolutely necessary.  Christian laity typically has such a remedial understanding of the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Word of God that they tend to be over simplistic or even rude to those who don’t understand.  The ‘kill them all and let God sort them out’ is inappropriate for approaching Muslims, but so is listening to some of today’s so called scholars when it comes to Christian-Muslim relations.  When people such as Jesuit Father Thomas Michel make comments such as “… what religion is about … is the way we relate to God… what does God want and how does God want us to act to others?”[i]  Here Father Michel is suggesting that the god of Islam and the God of Christianity have the same desires in human relations.  This could not be farther from the truth.  Our Christian God, teaching through His Son instructs Christians to “…love one another as I have loved you…” (John 13:14)[ii] Yet, Islam teaches that their god instructed them to “…kill the idolaters wherever you may find them; and take them, and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in every place…” (Qur’an 5:9)[iii]  These two primary tenets of faith, considering their opposing goals, do not appear to allow for the followers of Islam to calmly sit down and agree that their gods desire for them to live in harmony amongst Christians.  Thus, the teachers of the Christian faith must first leave all geopolitical goals behind and focus on teaching the Holy Will of God.  Until they do this, proper education of the Christian laity will not occur in their endeavor to have dialog with Muslims.

After those who follow Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, have come into a greatly improved understanding of the teachings of their faith, then and ONLY then will they be ready to learn of the doctrines of Islam as delivered through the Qur’an.  Yet, this can offer difficulty when considering that those teachings are muddled due to geopolitical forces which cause incorrect translations of their divine text.  A single example is offered here in reference to the previously quoted Qur’anic text.  Just compare that quote of Sura 5:9 with the following:  “…you may kill the idol worshipers when you encounter them, punish them, and resist every move they make.”[iv]  Just the simple relocation of the word “may” has changed the definitive action which Muslims should act upon when they encounter the “idol worshipers” or infidels.  This one point is enough to demonstrate that Christians must be selective in choosing scholars to teach them of Islam.  The selection is of utmost importance and only secondary to those who are to teach them of the proper Christian understanding.  Christians should select their educators of Muslim beliefs in such a way to assure a correct understanding rather than receive a ‘kinder – gentler’ view of Islam.

Only after Christians recognize the doctrine of their own faith and that of Islam are they prepared to begin dialog with Muslims.  In this last step, great endeavor must be made for them to be able to communicate the differences after there are relationships to be built on.  If a ‘door-to-door evangelism’ is the intent, the Christian is doomed from the outset, for these methods are confrontational to say the least and most recoil from them.  Building friendships with those who follow Islam is important so that communication avenues can be developed in a non-confrontational way.  That is, relying on the teachings of Matthew 28, “…go into all the world…” and remembering the previously quoted John 14 text will greatly assist the Christian when they seek to have dialog with their Muslim neighbors.  The best way to do this is with the intention to ultimately speak the Gospel to them in such a way to not be threatening or argumentative.

The best way for Christianity to approach Muslims is to view it as a long and winding road.  This writing has been to briefly illustrate the important steps that must be taken as Christianity extends itself into communication with and ministry to those who follow the Muslim tradition.  The only commonality which the two faiths truly have is that they both teach their followers to convert those who don’t believe properly.  Christians can not communicate what they believe unless they know what they believe.  They can not apologetically discuss with those of other faiths unless they know the teachings of those other faiths.  These understandings are of absolute importance, yet only useful if followed with an equally important, intentional, slow, methodical approach to those in the Muslim faith.  If these three points are expanded upon, then and only then can Christianity approach Islam with a hope to open communications which will allow the Holy Spirit to work upon the hearts of Muslims and bring them to understand that Jesus is the Son of the Living God and the One who has paid for all their sin.

 Sola Dei Gloria


[i] Josh Walsh, “What Next for Muslim-Christian Relations?”, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, (May-June 2008): 68.

[ii] The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001.

[iii] The Qur’an, translated by E.H. Palmer, Oxford University Press, London, 1900, 1942.

[iv] The Qur’an, translated by Dr. Rashad Khalifa, Sura 9:5, http://www.quran-islam.org/93.html.

‘Mixed’ Marriages

Posted: 20 March 2011 in Ramblings

Pastors have varied views regarding how to handle the marriages of couples who are not of the same denominational or faith background.  Further research demonstrated that these views have changed over time depending on the prevailing cultural norms.  In the distant past, only those with familiarity would become married and not a lot was specified regarding the affair.  In the recent past, it was assumed that the approval of the immediate family would be necessary.  In our contemporary culture, many relationships leading to marriage take place entirely in the ethernet-world and completely outside the knowledge of the families of either party.  When these changes are considered, it is not surprising that those officiating over the Rite of Holy Matrimony have a wide variety of opinion in the methods of dealing with the wedding of those who are of differing religious backgrounds.

Turning to the writings of Martin Luther (1483-1546), it is difficult to find any opinion on the topic of inter-faith marriages.  Specifically on the topic of marriage, Dr. Luther writes five articles, apparently only after being badgered to do so.[i] These articles dealt with: 1) Marriage should not be based on secret engagements; 2) a secret engagement yielding to a public one; 3) if two public engagements have been announced, the first should take precedence, but punishment should ensue for the second; 4) if someone touches the woman of their second engagement to break the first, the action should be regarded as adultery; and 5) forced engagements should not be valid.[ii] It should also be noted here that the parties who have been betrothed[iii] were assumed to be married in the eyes of God and thus the church.  Although Dr. Luther may have made comments about marriage throughout his career, these are the only specifics he made in regard to pre-marriage.  From this point it could be derived that society at the time apparently assumed the Christian faith was common among those who were to be married.

During the period where the roles of men and women were becoming more blended, the families of those involved were the predominant officials regarding the intermarriage of individuals. Between the 1930s and 1970s, the approval of blood relatives was the cultural expectation necessary for marriages to be ‘good’.  It was not socially acceptable for inter-faith to occur.  Although it could be expected that weddings of Jewish-Christian or Roman Catholic-Protestant couples to be forbidden it was also extremely unusual for inter-denomination weddings such as Lutheran-Baptist or Presbyterian-Roman Catholic to be allowed.  When considering those outside a given parish,

A pastor should be very careful in marrying strangers, of whom he knows nothing except that they have a license to marry.  He should make doubly sure that such people have, from the viewpoint of the Church, a right to marry. [iv]

However, due to the cultural shifts during[v] the same half-century, families and the church became more permissive regarding who should or could be joined in marriage.  During the 1950s and 1960s, the courts of the United States were responding to issues of inter-racial marriage and by the 1990s, the single biggest topic on record regarding marriage was that of homosexual union which is topic of a different nature entirely and is not discussed in this writing.

As we enter the 1990s, the culture has become more permissive in regards to marriages of various mixtures.  Marriages of inter-faith, inter-racial and inter-nationality are rather common place as we enter the twenty-first century.  The topic of inter-faith and especially that of inter-denomination are persistently discussed among those who have been placed in the Office of the Holy Ministry.  The opinions of those who serve range anywhere from ‘only those of the same doctrine’ to ‘it doesn’t really matter’.  One Lutheran pastor, speaking of an agreement with a justice of the peace and a Unitarian minister, states he is “willing to do weddings for those who want a Christian service officiated by a Christian pastor” to those who were seeking to do so in a popular resort environment.[vi] Another Lutheran pastor, who once found marriage ceremonies were once one of the least favorite activities of the vocation states:

Is it fair for us to insist on [a ten-week course of instruction before the wedding] just to be married in our church?  I would strongly argue that it is.  More than that, I would argue that we owe it to couples to seek to share Christ and the meaning of the Christian faith with them without being manipulative in the process.  To do less may be to cheat them out of an opportunity to establish a Christian marriage. [vii]

Just considering the views of these two men should be enough to see the varied perspectives which Lutheran pastors have.  One very experienced, semi-retired LC-MS[viii] pastor said that he had changed from refusing to marry a couple where one or both were non-members.[ix] In recent years he had come to see that refusing to marry them would be nothing short of slamming the sanctuary door in their faces.  Another LC-MS pastor stated that his practice had changed ‘over the years’ with the exception of retaining the requirement of pre-marital sessions.[x] Still another LC-MS pastor, who has married several non-member, inter-denomination couples in the past, insists on regular worship attendance during the time of weeks in which he meets with the couples for pre-marital counseling.[xi] All of these men are devoted to their call and are humble servants of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through their study of Holy Scriptures, the doctrine of the Lutheran tradition and prayerful deliberations, they have come to the conclusions that to be legalistic in certain matters which are not specifically spoken of in the Word, would be to create barriers for some people.  These barriers could be used by the evil one to keep some from being exposed to the love and saving grace of our Lord.  Thus careful counseling and proper teaching of those entering marriage would be preferred.  Allowing the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of those seeking marriage would be the result.

In conclusion, should inter-faith, inter-denominational marriages of member and non-members of congregations be carried out in a confessional Lutheran sanctuary?  History has a varied perspective on the topic, yet the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther would likely say ‘yes’.  Those currently in the Office of the Ministry would also answer in the affirmative; although there would be those who would place the requirement of pre-marital counseling to ensure those being married understand the ramifications of what they seek.  That is a personal relationship of a man and a woman which demonstrates inwardly and outwardly the union between husband and wife which reflects the loving relationship which our Savior Jesus Christ has shown for His Bride the Church.

Sola Dei Gloria

A rather comical view of ‘inter-Lutheran’ marriage.
(There are several sad, but true commentaries to be made about this video clip.)


[i] Luther’s Works, ed. J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, vol. 46, The Christian in Society III (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 267.
[ii] Ibid., 268.
[iii] engaged
[iv] John H.C. Fritz, Pastoral Theology, (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1932), 162.
[vi] Kevin Murphy, “Non-Member Weddings: A Moment of Opportunity,” Word & World 20.3 (Summer 2003): 310.
[vii] Richard Foege, “Non-Member Weddings: A Time for High Expectations,” Word & World 20.3 (Summer 2003): 311.
[viii] Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
[ix] Rev. S.U., interview by author, 10 October 2008, Ft. Wayne, IN.
[x] Rev. J.G., discussion with author, 03 November 2008, Ft. Wayne, IN.
[xi] Rev. R.T., practice observed by author, 2006-2007, Streetsboro, OH.

Sources Consulted

Dosser Jr., David A. “Including Families’ Spiritual Beliefs and Their Faith Communities in Systems of Care.” Journal of Family Social Work 5.3 (2001): 63-78.

Flouri, Eirini and Ann Buchanan. “What Predicts Traditional Attitudes to Marriage?” Children & Society 15 (2001): 264-271.

Foege, Richard. “Non-Member Weddings: A Time for High Expectation.” Word & World 20.3 (Summer 2003): 311, 313, 315

Fritz, John H.C. Pastoral Theology. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1932.

G., Rev. J. discussion with author, 03 November 2008, Ft Wayne, IN.

Larson, Jeffry H. and Holman, Thomas B. “Premarital Predictors of Marital Quality and Stability.” Family Relations 43.2 (April 1994): 228-237.

Luther, Martin. Luther’s Works, edited by J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald and H. T. Lehmann, vol. 46, The Christian in Society III. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999.

Murphy, Kevin. “Non-Member Weddings: A Moment of Opportunity.” Word & World 20.3 (Summer 2003): 310, 312, 314.

T., Rev. R. practice observed by author, 2006-2007, Streetsboro, OH.

U., Rev. S. Interview by author, 10 October 2008, Ft. Wayne, IN.