Opening the Book of Faith: Lutheran Insights for Bible Study


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In it a group of Lutheran scholars explore four methods of Bible study and apply each to four Scripture texts. The booklet, organized as a seven-session course, has been given to delegates at all ELCA synod assemblies across the nation this year, and a guide for study leaders has been made available for downloading from the Internet. Two major events scheduled for the spring of at Augsburg Fortress are the publication of a new Lutheran Study Bible and a big new Bible study program. Concordia Publishing House has announced an October date for release of its new volume, which is based on the English Standard Version of the Bible.

The new Augsburg Fortress Bible study, which is still in the development stages, will offer a variety of ways for congregations to engage in Bible study and is a key element in the Book of Faith project, according to Scott Tunseth of the Minneapolis publishing house. It will have both print and online elements, and new resources for study will probably be added over a period of years, he said. Any individual will also have access to it. For every chapter of every book in the Bible, the Web site will provide a summary, outline, theological themes, information on people and places, related art work and maps, a glossary of terms used, and answers to frequently asked questions, Peters said.

There will also be short videos in which faculty members discuss key themes in the various books.

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Almost every professor at Luther Seminary has contributed to the Web project, which has taken three years to complete. One of the oldest Bible-study programs being used today, the Bethel Bible Series, is marking its 50th anniversary this year with newly updated materials. The Bethel Series offers 40 illustrated lessons, which are covered in two years of intensive study.

Some congregations representing 47 denominations in the United States and abroad have used the course over the years and remain enrolled, said Betty Mansfield, director of the program in Madison, Wisconsin. However, the Bethel Series is not as dominant in the Bible-study field as it once was, she said. Sam comes to Faith to receive God and be spiritually uplifted. He enjoys the behind the scene responsibilities at Faith; like setting up for the outdoor worship service at 5th and Madison.

Sam sees God partnering with us at Faith through our youth, to believe and spread the word of God. Ellie is Goshen High School junior who maintains a pretty busy schedule. At school she takes a number of IB classes, tutors elementary students in Pact, is the yearbook editor, sings in the choir, and is in National Honor Society. Ellie also is a manager for the Football Team, a member of the varsity Swim Team, and does Unified Track in the spring. When she has free time, Ellie likes to bake, read, and being with her friends.

Ellie hopes to one day be either a counselor or a forensic nurser. This will be her 2nd Youth Gathering. She also joined the youth group on their Mission Trip to West Virginia last summer. Ellie likes coming to Faith because of her family, being with her friends in youth group, and Contemporary Worship. Advent is a season of waiting. And waiting is hard Too often we rush right past Advent, not intentional, in our waiting and instead filling it with busyness and stuff. It helps us count down the days of our waiting by getting a new piece of chocolate each day, or you can buy one from Target where you child gets a small toy, or there is even an adult Advent Calendar that give you a bottle of wine each day.

This has always seemed strange to us that we wait for the day when we get stuff, by each day getting more stuff. This year at Faith we want you to join us as we reclaim this Advent season as a period of waiting by focusing on presence, not presents. We call it a Reverse Advent Calendar. Rather than getting something each day to count down the days until Christmas we are going to encourage one another to give something, specifically the gift of presence with one another and with God.

Advent is a time when we should give, share, love and focus more intently on deepening our relationship with God and our relationships with others. So here is how the Reverse Advent Calendar works: Start on December 3, the first day of Advent, which is located in the bottom left hand corner of the calendar and simply follow the instructions. Each day you will be guided to do something to deepen relationships, with God or with others. Feel free to look ahead and change dates up to fit best with you schedule. For example, if you have plans on the night we suggest to watch a movie with your family swap that with another night.


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As you journey towards Christmas notice how focusing on people, rather than things, changes your Advent Season and your celebration on Christmas. The people of Saxony had stopped paying the tithe so that the preachers and teachers were receiving very little financial support.

Because of these financial issues both theologians like Luther and government officials visited the churches. Luther went with a team visiting churches around Wittenburg. What the Reformers found was churches that did not have any understanding of the faith they professed. Many priests could not read. They could not preach. The people neglected worship and prayers. They did not know the basics of the Christian faith. The common people, especially those who live in the country, have no knowledge whatever of Christian teaching, and the pastors are quite incompetent and unfitted for teaching.

Both of these catechisms have been used for nearly years to instruct us in our faith. They were included in the Book of Concord which is a compilation of documents written by the Reformers that the Lutheran Church claims not only as their founding documents but also as what we believe in the church today. Luther wrote his Small Catechism to be used in the home.

He wanted families to learn together. The Small Catechism was first published as a set of signs to hang on the wall around the home. Luther intended this short catechism to be something that could be memorized. It asked questions about what the words meant in these three documents and offered answers to how they applied to the daily lives of the people.

It also teaches about Baptism, Communion, Confession, prayer, and other duties of life. Luther wrote the Large Catechism to be used by the church leaders in how to teach all the faithful about the church and about faith in Christ. The Large Catechism was based on sermons that he had preached at Wittenburg. Luther covers the same topics as in the Small Catechism but in much more detail. The Small Catechism and the Large Catechism are still used in the church nearly years later.

The Small Catechism is used often with Confirmation classes. Families are still encouraged to learn together. The Large Catechism is still used by pastors and church leaders to learn how to teach in the church. Even later in his career, Martin Luther still saw the importance of these for our spiritual growth and maturity. I do not know what it is about them, but despite being in some very threatening and severe thunderstorms I do not run for cover when a storm is approaching. Friends warn that I will be struck by lightning, but even if I go inside I stay where I can see the sky flash.

I am amazed by the beauty of the dangerous flash and by all that I can see for that instant even in the darkest night. Have you ever been in a severe thunderstorm? Have you ever had a terrifying experience that you did not think you would live through? Many times when we have those moments we can experience moments of clarity in the terror. These moments are sometimes called a lightning bolt call. On July 2, a law student was on his way back to school after a short visit with his family to discuss his future.

A violent thunderstorm developed and there was nowhere for the student to take cover. Lightning struck dangerously close to him. He prayed and vowed that if he survived this storm, he would forget about his study of law and devote his life to serving God and others. In the moment of terror there came a moment of clarity. Our storms may not always be literal storms with rain and wind and lightning, but we find ourselves in situations similar to that of the young law student.

Sometimes it can be illnesses or accidents. Sometimes it can be loss of a job. Sometimes it can be change all around us. In each of these circumstances the chaos and darkness can feel just as real as in a deadly thunderstorm. We are traveling through life with a destination in mind. We are accepting the expectations of others as our own. We are not really seeking what God wants, but we are looking to the future with our own plans.

Everything seems calm and safe. Then a storm comes. Maybe it is a literal storm, or maybe it is some other kind of terror or chaos. And when the fear comes, we see what is important for us to see in the moments when the darkness is dismissed by the flash of the Light that brings us clarity. All of us are being called to a life devoted to God and to others. We may not become a monk like Martin Luther did after he prayed for safety during the lightning storm in July of We are, however, being called and directed by the Holy Spirit all along the journey it is just in those dark moments that everything is made clear.

Jesus was the light that showed Luther the way in the darkness. Jesus is that Light for us too. Where is the Holy Spirit calling you today to serve God and others? Where have you found moments of clarity? Are you watching for what is that you can see when the lightning flashes and brightens your circumstances for a moment so that you can see? You may know that Martin Luther wrote this hymn that we sing quite often in church. Do you know the story behind it? This hymn was written sometime around This was ten years after he had nailed the 95 Thesis to the door of Castle Church.

His life had been in turmoil ever since that day. He had been involved in upheaval in the church. He had been excommunicated. He had been condemned to death. He had been kidnapped by allies and hidden in Wartburg Castle. He had sworn that he would never marry but found himself marrying in And in he had disappointing visitations at churches in Saxony that led him to write the Small and Large Catechisms.

He had health issues that were becoming a problem for him. He and his wife were expecting a child. The plague had hit Wittenberg and many of the people he cared for were dying. In the midst of all of this, he wrote this beloved hymn based in part on Psalm When we sing this song in worship, we can think about the trials that Martin Luther went through in the years preceding the writing of the lyrics. We can think about how God was a mighty fortress for Luther and that God can be a mighty fortress for us in our difficult times today. This is not the only hymn that he wrote.

Luther was talented musically and was proficient in musical composition. He wrote approximately thirty-six hymns. Nineteen are still in our hymnal ELW today. Augsburg Fortress, , Through interactive learning experiences, speakers and worship, bible studies and devotions, service opportunities and fellowship; youth and adults grow in their faith and are challenged and inspired to live their faith in their daily lives.

When we are able to truly claim this reality, it changes everything! This experience will change everything for our youth. Actually any experience where our youth feel loved and valued changes everything for them. Coming to worship and being known and seen as valued members of our congregation changes everything for our youth. Feeling like their voices matter changes everything for our youth. Serving others changes everything for our youth. Belonging and being loved changes everything for our youth. All these things happen within our Faith community and will happen over the next days as we prepare to go to Houston.

You will see our youth serving our Faith community. You will see our youth in worship. You will see our youth in leadership roles. You will see that your life will change because of them too! As we prepare for the Youth Gathering we will need your help too; your financial help as well as your prayers and support.

We will be hosting a number of fundraisers over the course of the year, like: Sponsor cards for each youth have also been made and youth are sharing these with family members and friends. We invite you to participate in our fundraisers as you are able; whether that is financially or volunteering to help us put these fundraisers on. Thank you for your ongoing support of our youth.

You are changing their lives and making a difference just as they are making a difference in yours. A few weeks ago I was enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend and they happened to say something that I disagreed with. My immediate response was to interrupt them so that I might share the correct, I mean my, point of view with them. How many of us have been here and reacted in the exact same exact way?

There is this unspoken rule in our society that seems to say the side that shouts the loudest for the longest is right. I struggle with accepting this behavior and have tried to become more aware to the ways I participate in it. This is because an angry person doesn't produce God's righteousness.

I believe the Christian community should be a place where listening to one another is practiced and modeled. Nate explained his anger at watching NFL player Colin Kaepernick sitting on the bench while the anthem played. What happened after that was abnormal from we have grown accustomed to seeing. Instead of a verbal argument over who was right, they reached out to each other and listened to each other and came to an agreement.

Even though they disagree, they were able to respect one another and learn more from where the other was coming form. Here is what Nate said in the interview I saw,. And just the shouting. You know what I mean? I just know my experience. And I never will. No matter what color, or anything. And so, for me, I just wanted to come with an open mind and just listen for once because I have a bad habit of judging. I think everyone does. And I just, I wanted to stop that in myself. I too have a bad habit of judging. Maybe the first step in following this command Jesus gives us to to start by listening to one another, actively listening.

Especially with those whom we disagree. Lorelei is a third grader at Benton Elementary School. Lorelei loves the color pink. Art is her favorite subject and has been known to draw pictures during worship; including Pastor Jes getting a pie thrown in her face.


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  • She began taking piano lessons each Tuesday about a month ago and is enjoying playing the piano. An IT manager at Look Trailers. A lover of Blues, Jazz, and Classical music. Kendall is a Mennonite turned Methodist turned Lutheran. The more I learn about the Lutheran faith the more I realize how closely it aligns with my own inherent views. Kendal is an active participant at Pint with a Pastor, our Wednesday Night Live adult class, and worshipping at our 8: His favorite thing about Faith is the energy of the pastoral team, as well as the good balance of their personalties.

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    In baptism, not only are the parents asked if they will pass on their faith to their child but the congregation is also asked if they will be an active part in the life of the person being baptized; to support them and pass on faith to those being baptized. Faith Mapping is a ministry approach that I have been learning about over the past year that I am beginning to implement at Faith Lutheran this coming Saturday, September 23, with our elementary aged youth and their parents.

    So what is Faith Mapping? Faith Mapping is taking an intentional look at connecting youth to faith through relationships with those in our Faith community. It is relational ministry at its fullest. The idea behind Faith Mapping is a much deeper and more purposeful approach to connecting youth to church then simply sending them to Christian Education times or youth group. Research in youth ministry shows that the more youth build relationships within the church the more likely they are to stay engaged in the church. These relationship are not accidentally; they are prayerful, purposively, and intentional sought, built, and sustained.

    In Faith Mapping we deliberately identify those relationship voids and then aim to fill those relationship needs with loving, caring people from within the congregation.

    Opening the Book of Faith: Lutheran Insights for Bible Study

    The church then becomes a place of deep meaningful relationships, that both youth and adults what to nurture because they know and show the love and care of Jesus. Now you may be asking yourself, if Faith Mapping is about connecting youth with adults and building relationships, what is Pastor Jes going to ask of me? I am asking you to be yourself. Simple as that… well and to have a willingness to be connected with youth and other members of all ages. Faith Mapping is all about relationships, building intentional relationships. So I might intentionally connect you with a youth based on interests you might have: Have a good week!

    You don't have to plan the event or even lead it, that is my job; your job is simply to participate with them in the activity. Faith Mapping is about relationship building that brings the whole community together so that together we learn and serve, pray and worship, walk with each other in celebrations and sadness, and love each other as God loves us. If you are interested in knowing more about Faith Mapping or want to make your own Faith Map, join us this Saturday, September 23 at 1: Pastor John and his family began ordering from those cook at home meal programs and he made a promise to follow the recipe as written and try each meal.

    In the past few weeks Pastor John has tried and eaten Spinach, Kale, Green Beans, Snap Peas, and a leaf of lettuce you read that correctly, a single leaf- we all have to start somewhere. Maybe you will inspire Pastor John to try that dreaded broccoli.

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    We hope you can join us for worship this fall beginning September After listening carefully over the past several years, we believe we have finally determined what those who attend church really want in music. Following are items that come up most frequently whenever this topic is discussed: As I read through the list I found myself both laughing and crying at how ridiculously true this is within the church. But I found myself continuing to cry as I read this list. Crying out of frustration because I have heard these same statements made here at Faith.

    My personal preferences or wants will not line up with your personal preferences or wants. Which will continue to create these frustrating moments about how to do ministry at Faith. Being the church is about God, about the one who creates all and is in all.

    It is my hope and prayer that as we continue to live into being Faith; one church with two locations, that we are aware that we gather for God and not for ourselves. Things will change but why we are the church will not. Jane and I want to thank each of you for the unbelievable surprise event that you all planned for us at Faith, and the very generous gift card.

    Our nearly 30 years at Trinity and Faith have been a rich and rewarding experience for us, and our family. Serving in churches, and especially being part of church music programs, has always been a primary focus for Jane and me. Serving as the choir director here in Goshen for 28 years, and overall for 40 years has truly been a blessing to me. We have met such wonderful choir members and organists over the years; we have loved serving in our congregation here and working for such wonderful pastors and staff members.

    I pray that our music over the years has truly been a blessing to all those who have worshiped here.

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    I sincerely appreciate the kind comments that many of you have shared with Janie and me over the years, and especially your wonderful words in the past few weeks, as I announced my retiring from choir directing. Thank you for your love and friendship, and your appreciation of church music. My special thanks to all of the members of the Sanctuary Choir and to Kay, for all of her support, encouragement and working together. I ask you to continue to pray for our Sanctuary Choir, our wonderful Praise Team, and the Church Council as decisions are made for our future worship services and choir singing.

    I am donating my time each Sunday as their keyboard player, leading Sunday morning worship each week. This congregation was a mission congregation of Trinity a number of years ago, and we financially supported the congregation each month for a number of years. Pastor Herbon also preached at their sanctuary dedication service. We will continue to pray for Faith Lutheran. We love you all. It doesn't seem like a lot when I put those numbers side by side. Those 23 days have flown by in the midst of grief, pastoral care, planning, and sermonizing leading up to and following the funerals.

    In the midst of these past three weeks I found myself gazing over all the names etched into the bricks of our memorial gardens, remembering all of the funerals that I have presided over during my 9 years here in Goshen. I thought about the words that some of you have shared with me over these past few weeks, that I have been given a gift to lead funerals.

    I've been pondering what this means, having a gift to lead funerals. It certainly isn't one of the spiritual gifts listed by Saint Paul in Scripture. It is not a gift I sought out or prepared for. It is actually exhausting, emotionally and physically. While it isn't a gift I asked for, it is one I'm humbled and honored to have. For in these moments it is a chance to proclaim the gospel, through word and deed. That is something I prepared for and feel called to do.

    But as I continued to reflect on leading funerals it became abundantly clear to me that this is not a calling I share alone. It is one we share together as the church, as the body of Christ. Caring for each other in a time of grief is done in so many different ways, through so many different skill sets of gifts of the Spirit. It isn't a moment, but a journey of caring that needs to take place. This isn't something that a single pastor or team of pastors can do alone, but something we as the church are called to do together.

    So I thank you church, for partnering together to care for one another by. This past week a good friend of mine from seminary's husband committed suicide. My hearts breaks for her and I wish I could be physically present to show my love, prayers, and support for her this weekend at his funeral. However, I will presiding at another funeral here in Goshen and will not be able to make that trip to Washington DC.

    Opening the Book of Faith: Lutheran Insights for Bible Study Opening the Book of Faith: Lutheran Insights for Bible Study
    Opening the Book of Faith: Lutheran Insights for Bible Study Opening the Book of Faith: Lutheran Insights for Bible Study
    Opening the Book of Faith: Lutheran Insights for Bible Study Opening the Book of Faith: Lutheran Insights for Bible Study
    Opening the Book of Faith: Lutheran Insights for Bible Study Opening the Book of Faith: Lutheran Insights for Bible Study
    Opening the Book of Faith: Lutheran Insights for Bible Study Opening the Book of Faith: Lutheran Insights for Bible Study
    Opening the Book of Faith: Lutheran Insights for Bible Study Opening the Book of Faith: Lutheran Insights for Bible Study
    Opening the Book of Faith: Lutheran Insights for Bible Study Opening the Book of Faith: Lutheran Insights for Bible Study

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