The Clock is Running!

It’s back in my hands! Catechetics, with the final copy edit, is back in my hands. The remaining steps are few, but critical:

  1. Approve changes.
  2. Layout.
  3. Cover. (Needs to have exact number of pages to be correctly sized)
  4. Publish.

It’s been a long road. Six years. The best continuing education project I’ve ever undertaken. Comparatively, it’s been pretty inexpensive. And hopefully soon, you’ll see the fruits of it. I hope you find it at least a small fraction as enjoyable and helpful as I have.

Also, it pretty much goes without saying that blogging is suspended while I go off to my walnut-paneled  study (I wish!) and work.

See you soon…

 

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Interregnum

While the last part of my Catechetics manuscript is in copy editing, I occasionally have a few minutes of free time (you’ll notice I’ve been doing a little bit more on the blog this week).

So what does that mean for projects? I have a new one. It’s a small one (relatively speaking). I am planning on putting together what I think will be my final paper on the fellowship trilogy.

In seminary, nothing was quite so dull for me as discussions of fellowship. It was always a review of CTCR documents, in the context of “who can’t commune.” After Yankee Stadium, I took a dive into the writings of the fathers. It was like comparing apples and tripe. Scripture and our confessions don’t talk about fellowship in terms of who can and can not commune. They discuss fellowship in terms of oneness with Christ. The fathers speak in these terms as well. What a wonderful new world of joy and excitement for a young pastor who is struggling with error in our synod.

The result of those studies (in conjunction with other pastors) was “That They May Be One”, a document that ended up being far better and more influential than the unqualified pastor who worked on it deserved. That’s largely because of the efforts of others who were also on the committee, who made sure my meager efforts offered a worthy voice in our church’s conversation. When it came under immediate attack, I was asked to defend it at the Saint Louis seminary symposium. Working on that paper was an introduction of sorts for me – looking back on it now, I see many ideas developing that would later guide my understanding of the church.

Four years later, newly arrived in the Wyoming District, I was asked to speak to the issue of fellowship directly. I assumed that paper, “Fellowship Considerations in an Erring Church” would be the end of the discussion. The TL/DR version is: Yes, there are errorists in the church. But even CFW Walther admitted that Luther’s method was correct: teach the truth until they remove you.

A decade later, as the conversation in the church returned to the topic, I was again asked to deliver a paper for the pastor’s conference. This time, I addressed a more practical question: How do we faithfully and lovingly deal with errorists when they demand to be treated as faithful teachers? So, back into scripture, the confessions, and the church fathers I went.

And yet, those papers, as valuable as they have been to me, only hint at our path going forward. I plan a return once more to the Word of God as I attempt to write part 3 of “Fellowship Considerations in an Erring Church.” This has not been requested by an official group in our synod. But some pastors have asked that I continue my work, and I have a few moments right now to at least develop an outline. When and if the paper will be finished, I do not know. Nor do I know in what forum I will deliver it. But, at the very least, it will help me as I struggle with these issues. As always, I do not know for sure what conclusions I will reach. I am often astonished at where I end up on these journeys.

But that is my next project. Part 4 of the trilogy. I assume it will be the final part. But then, I always do. And the study of the Word of God continues.

 

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The Correct Number of Books

I recently heard of a lady suggesting you should keep no more than 30 books with you at a time. I now travel overnight once a week, and I’ve gotten pretty good at packing, so let me tell you, this is NOT a good idea.

I’ve got 15 books in my backpack, and it’s almost tipping me over. As a professional, I caution everyone – don’t keep more than 10 books with you at any one time. The other 2,000 or so should go on your shelves with their fellow books, to await a time of great need when you will withdraw them and open your mind to the insight and adventure contained therein.

Please, read responsibly.

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Seeing the Sights

What does a country parson do when he has a few extra minutes at his new parish before leading a bible study for the LWML?

He airs up his bike tires so he can get some exercise, and then takes a bike tour of the local tourist hot spots, of course!

Pine Bluffs has a beautiful statue of the Mother of our Lord. That called for a selfie:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary is the highly favored one, who is called blessed by all generations. Even so…

 

 

 

 

 

 

No. We don’t pray to the one who is highly favored. We pray to the one who is despised and rejected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way out, I noticed something:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This road goes right past my alma mater – Concordia Theological Seminary. (1200 miles to the east.) Ahh, memories of days gone by…

And then, back to town and a bible study on the Feast of Tabernacles.

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Days of Obligation

January first is a holy day of obligation for the Roman Catholic church. Some of you may be wondering what a holy day of obligation is.

It is a day (there are six of them scattered about the year) when all Roman Catholics are required to go to Mass, and if they do not, it is a mortal sin, which can only be forgiven by confessing to a priest. (The Sacrament of the Altar can’t forgive that sin. Only penance/reconciliation can.)

It’s like getting a great new birthday present from your parents, but then your big brother whispers in your ear, “If you don’t open this at your exact birth minute, I’ll beat the snot out of you later.”

There might be a Lutheran Satire video in there somewhere, but perhaps Pr. Feine is too busy having beans explain to strawberries how circumcision works…

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Update: Country Parson Times 3

For those who follow my blog, you might have noticed I am now the pastor of three congregations. For now, two of them are vacancy, while we see if this is possible. The last guy to take on those two plus another had to retire early because of health problems. Now, I have them plus my own parish which is larger than any of the original three were. It’s 134 miles end to end. It’s almost a hybrid between circuit riding and multi-point parishes. On the one hand, I manage to preach at all three each week. On the other hand, I’m only even in town at the dual parish 30 hours a week: Sunday noon to Monday about 4pm.

It’s working well so far, but then so far all I’ve done is preach and visit shut-ins. In the new year we’ll need to find ways to include instruction (at the very least, for catechumens), assistance in parish administration (that means going to meetings), and other details of parish life. Can it work? Good question. There are other places where it is happening, so it can work. But it isn’t being done anywhere else in my district because in the past, things got too difficult and the job took too much of a toll on the pastor.

I have some advantages they didn’t have: 80 mph speed limits, cell phones with mini-computers in them, my almost super-human ability to say “No”, etc. That may ease the burden somewhat, and increase the sense of pastoral presence, even in my absence.

But it can’t make it so I can be in two places at once. And at some point, I need to be where ministry is needed, in an ongoing way.

The three congregations have been super-supportive so far, but so far we’ve just done Divine Service. There is more than that to parish life. Moving into the new year, we find out if it works in the day-to-day life of the congregations. If it does, it will likely be copied as we move forward, because things are getting tight all over. If it doesn’t work, it will become cautionary tale: The guy who lost his mind trying to do ten impossible things before breakfast; don’t be like that guy.

Meanwhile, for those waiting for Catechetics, it is still on the way. Oddly, this may have hurried it’s arrival. I finished all my edits before Advent started because I knew I needed it pretty much off my desk before the tri-point began. The first half is being laid out while the second half gets copy-edited. Once that’s back (sometime in the next month or so), I will set a release date, and get the final details in place. It’s coming very soon.

But that means my blog has been neglected. I’ve had about a dozen posts flit through my mind in the last month. And I’ve only had time to post one or two of them. I haven’t even kept up on sermons like I wanted. But if there’s something that needs to give a little, the blog is pretty much it. For now, I’ll post when I can. Stay tuned for the release date announcement about Catechetics. It is coming, I promise. And thanks to all of you who have encouraged me, and especially to the select few who have donated over at my GoFundMe page. I could use a little more, if you want to toss in a few bucks, but between what has been given, and what I can afford to chip in on my own, I can now pay for the copy-edit. It’s coming, and DV, it won’t be much longer.

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Liberal Arts & Theology

There’s a great article by Victor Davis Hanson about the death of the Liberal Arts on college campuses. Go here to read it.  When you get back, click through, because I have some thoughts. Continue reading

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