Prayers of the Church, Third Sunday of Easter, May 5, 2019

The Prayers of the Church

The Third Sunday of Easter, May 5, 2019


Let us pray to our risen Savior on behalf of the Church, the world, and one another.

A brief silence

O Lord Jesus, you stand in the midst of the lampstands which are your churches; and you fill them with imperishable light. Thank you for not deserting us to the darkness of sin, evil, and death. Thank you for dispelling the gloomy clouds of doubt, grief, and despair. Thank you for leading us into the everlasting day of your resurrection life. Grant us grace to lead all people and all creation in praising your Name.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, you commanded your servant Peter to feed your lambs and to tend your sheep. Grant your Church the faithfulness, compassion, and courage to feed your flock with your living Word of truth and grace; your living water of baptismal regeneration; and your living Body and Blood, the source of life everlasting.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Your Church is persecuted in many places, even as it was in the days of the Apostles. Deliver it from its enemies; grant it steadfast faith and hearts free from bitterness; and by its faithful endurance, shine the light of your judgment and forgiveness upon its persecutors, so that they may turn to you and live.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Bless this congregation. Kindle our hearts to seek the lost, lift up the broken-hearted, and feed hungry souls around us with your holy and precious Word.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

As you confronted Saul on the Damascus road, so we pray that you would, in challenge and in mercy, confront the scoffers and skeptics who scorn your Word and refuse your truth. Give us winsome logic and gentle hearts; so that through our words, deeds and lives, you feed the unbelieving with your justice, truth and love.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You are Lord, King, Judge and Savior of the world. Enlighten the hearts of all who take counsel for the nations, and guide them in pathways of justice and righteousness.  Grant that your people everywhere may be fed with justice as well as loaves; may drink of peace as well as clean water; and may be given the safety and freedom to live, learn, teach and work; to raise their families and help their neighbors; and to know and love their Lord and God.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Defend and guide all who stand between life and death; between violence and safety; and between oppression and freedom. Lend them your wisdom and righteousness, and raise them up when they falter. Heal them of wounds to body, heart, and mind; and grant them joyous reunions with those who love them.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Oh great and good Shepherd, lead with gentleness and compassion all who are sick or sorrowing; lonely or confused; hurting or despairing; and to all who cry out for mercy. Especially we remember before you the needs of: {List}. Give the Spirit of your compassion to all who care for them; and restore them to wholeness and hope.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


Lord Jesus, you alone are worthy to open the scroll; to judge the whole world in righteousness; and to bring forgiveness, life, and salvation to every sinner who dies trusting in your promises. We thank you for fulfilling those promises in the lives of our beloved dead. Give us faith, to trust your Word, no matter what the world screams at us to believe. Give us compassion, to feed and tend all for whom you died and rose, even those who rebuff or belittle us.  Give us grace, to taste, in this life, a foretaste of the banquet-feast of heaven, which you have prepared for all whom you have redeemed by your Blood.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Grant to us all that is in accordance with your will, dear Jesus, and accomplish your salvation among us; for you are risen from the dead and dwell in majesty with your Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Devotion for Friday, April 26, 2019

“You are good and do good; teach me Your statutes. The arrogant have
forged a lie against me; with all my heart I will observe Your precepts. Their
heart is covered with fat, but I delight in Your law.” (Psalm 119:68-69)

The Lord is always good. Never
forget this simple truth. In times of adversity and when things are not
proceeding in ways that make sense to you, the Lord is still good. What He has
promised is that everything will work for His glory. Learn His statutes and
walk in them. Do not believe the lies of the arrogant who have forged a plot
for your demise. Though you be confused, trust that God is always good.

Lord, clear the fat from my heart that I would see through the nonsense
of this age of sin. Guide me, O Lord, in the way of truth that I would now and
forever hold fast to Your Word. Lead me into the truth of eternity. O Lord, You
are good and Your ways are eternal. Lead me in the eternal way and teach me to
practice Your goodness now and forever that I would abide in You.

Jesus, You promised that if I
abide in You and You in me I would bear fruit. Lead me in the way You have
established that I would walk this day learning Your statutes and precepts. Help
me to always see in the way You have established, the way of everlasting life. Keep
my eyes upon You that I would always hold fast to the truth of what You have
revealed from the beginning. Amen.

Prayers of the Church,  Second Sunday of Easter, April 28, 2019

The Prayers of the Church 

The Second Sunday of Easter, April 28, 2019


Let us pray to our risen Savior on behalf of the Church, the world, and one another.

A brief silence

O Lord Jesus, you stand in the midst of the lampstands which are your churches; and you fill them with imperishable light. Thank you for not deserting us to the darkness of sin, evil, and death. Thank you for dispelling the gloomy clouds of doubt, grief, and despair. Thank you for leading us into the everlasting day of your resurrection life. Grant us grace to lead all people and all creation in praising your Name.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, bestow the light of your Resurrection upon your Church. Breathe your Holy Spirit upon it, and fill it with your peace. Give it grace and boldness to proclaim you as the crucified and risen Savior of the world, so that all people may adore you as their Lord and their God.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Dwell in the midst of those who suffer persecution on account of you. Make them into golden lampstands, shining with the radiance of your glory and grace, and filled with the oil of faithful witness and steadfast endurance.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Pour your Holy Spirit into the hearts of everyone in this congregation. Give us a hunger for your Word; a thirst for receiving and for sharing your forgiveness; a vision of your love for all people; and a desire to serve you by serving others in your name.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Give us the persistence and kindness of the disciples who sought out Thomas and drew him back into your dear presence. Help us to share, with those who have lost hope, the hope that is in us.


Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We earnestly beseech you to give to the leaders of the nations, and to all people entrusted to their care, that peace which the world cannot give. Send your Holy Spirit into the world, so that repentant faith and deeds of mercy may bring the light of your saving love to hearts darkened by the powers of sin, evil and death.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Direct the deliberations and deeds of all who risk their lives on behalf of others. Give them wisdom and courage, integrity and patience, and fill them with a love for your good and gracious will. Use them to establish justice, safety, and hope in places sorely lacking in those good things.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Heal the bodies, cheer the spirits, and illumine the hearts of all whose lives are shadowed by sorrow, suffering, doubt or despair. Especially we remember before you the needs of: {List}. Renew in them the gifts of faith and hope; raise them to fullness of life; and restore them to joyful fellowship with all who love them.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, you have been raised from death to die no more; and you promise your resurrection life to all whom you have redeemed. We therefore entrust into your strong arms the lives of all who have fallen asleep in you, especially our beloved dead. Wipe away the tears of all who grieve; turn our doubt into unshakeable confidence; and grant that all of us may at last see you face to face and cry out in adoration and joy, “My Lord and my God!”

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Grant to us all that is in accordance with your will, dear Jesus, and accomplish your salvation among us; for you are risen from the dead and dwell in majesty with your Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Lessons and Suggested Hymns, Second Sunday of Easter through Trinity Sunday, 2019

April 28, 2019: 2nd Sunday of Easter


Acts 5:12-32 (though imprisoned, the disciples are freed by an angel; they continue to proclaim the Gospel, as they must obey God rather than man)

RCL: Acts 5:27-32 (We must obey God, not man; we are witnesses to these things)

Psalm 148 (all creation praises God)

RCL: Psalm 150 (Let all creation praise God!)

Revelation 1:4-18 (John writes to his churches, sees the transcendent Jesus  in midst of the candle stands representing those churches)

John 20:19-31 (Jesus appears, gives Spirit and commission to forgive/retain sins; Thomas’s confession of faith)


Opening Hymn: ELW #361, The Day of Resurrection!

(LBW #141, has a very awkward tune. Use Ellacombe, the tune for “O Day of Rest and Gladness”, #251 which ELW uses and is far more singable, or Lancashire, tune for LBW #495, “Lead On, O Kinky Turtle,” which is also the tune used for “The Day of Resurrection in LSB, #478.)

OR LBW #139, O Sons and Daughters of the King (LSB #471; 470 uses another familiar tune) (ELW #386, O Sons and Daughters, Let Us Sing)

Hymn of the Day: LBW #154, That Easter Day With Joy Was Bright

(Puh-leeez use the tune that ELW #384 uses for this. “Puer Nobis,” used for “On Jordan’s Banks the Baptist’s Cry”)     

OR LSB #472, These Things Did Thomas Count as Real

Communion Hymn #1: LBW #214, Come, Let Us Eat (ELW #491, LSB #626)

Communion Hymn #2: WOV #678, Christ is Arisen, Alleluia (ELW #372)

Closing Hymn: LBW #131, Christ is Risen! Alleluia! (ELW #382)




May 5, 2019: 3rd Sunday of Easter


Acts 9:1-22 (Conversion of Saul)

Psalm 30 (praise God for deliverance from enemies)

Revelation 5:1-14 (is no one worthy to open the scroll? the heavenly host praise the Lamb who was slain,

who alone is worthy to open the scroll of judgment)

RCL: Revelation 5:11-14 (eliminates weeping because no one found worthy until the slaughtered Lamb appears)

John 21:1-19 (the disciples and the risen Jesus, a miraculous catch of fish, and “Feed my lambs”)


Opening Hymn: LBW #172, Lord, Enthroned in Heavenly Splendor (ELW #475, LSB #534)

Hymn of the Day: LBW #210, At the Lamb’s High Feast (ELW #362, LSB #633)

Communion Hymn #1: LBW #356, O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts (ELW #658)

Communion Hymn #2: LBW #144, Good Christian Friends, Rejoice and Sing! (ELW #385, LSB #475)

Closing Hymn: LBW #170, Crown Him With Many Crowns (ELW #855, LSB #525)


May 12, 2019: 4th Sunday of Easter (Good Shepherd Sunday), also Mother’s Day


Acts 20:17-35 (Paul, on his way to Jerusalem, exhorts elders to watch over the flock they are entrusted with,

for there are dangerous wolves that threaten them)

            RCL: Acts 9:36-43 (Peter raises Tabitha)

Psalm 23 (the Lord is my shepherd)

Revelation 7:9-17 (salvation belongs to God and to the Lamb; behold a host, arrayed in white)

John 10:22-30 (my sheep hear my voice; no one shall snatch them from my hand)


Opening Hymn: LSB #676, Behold A Host, Arrayed in White (far superior translation)

OR   LBW 314, Behold A Host, Like Mountains Bright (ELW #425, Behold the Host…)

Hymn of the Day: LBW #456, The King of Love My Shepherd Is (ELW #502, LSB #709)

OR LBW #481, Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us (ELW #789, LSB #711, both use the old familiar tune from SBH for this hymn)

Communion Hymn #1: LBW #537, O Jesus, King Most Wonderful

            OR ELW #826, Thine the Amen (WOV #801, LSB #680)

Communion Hymn #2: LSB #740, I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb

    OR LBW #476, Have No Fear, Little Flock (ELW #764, LSB #735)

Closing Hymn: LBW #196, Praise the Lord, Rise Up Rejoicing (ELW #544)



May 19, 2019: 5th Sunday of Easter


Acts 11:1-18 (Peter defends baptism of Cornelius’ household by recounting his vision)

Psalm 148 (all creation praises the Lord)

Revelation 21:1-7 (new heaven and earth; no pain, crying or death; He is Alpha and Omega)

John 16:12-22 (Jesus promises the Spirit, who will declare his words to the disciples; they should rejoice that Jesus is going away,

for he will return, and no one will take away their joy)

RCL: John 13:31-35 (I give you a new command: love each other as I have loved you)


Opening Hymn: WOV #744, Soon and Very Soon (ELW #439)

OR LBW #351, O Happy Day When We Shall Stand (ELW #441)

Hymn of the Day: LBW #129, Awake, My Heart, With Gladness (ELW #378, LSB #467)

Communion Hymn #1: LBW #330, In Heaven Above (ELW #630)

Communion Hymn #2: LBW #219, Come With Us, O Blessed Jesus (ELW #501)

Closing Hymn: LBW #315, Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (ELW #631, LSB #700)





May 26, 2019: 6th Sunday of Easter; Memorial Day Weekend


Acts 16:9-15(mission to Macedonia; meeting in house of Lydia)

Psalm 67 (May God be gracious to us and bless us; let all peoples praise him)

Revelation 21:9-14, 21-27 (vision of the New Jerusalem)

John 16:22-33 (then you will ask anything of the Father in my name, and receive; you joy will be complete.

In the world you have trouble, but I have overcome the world) 

RCL: John 14:23-29 (Those who love me keep my word; I give you peace; I send the Spirit; rejoice, because I go to the Father)


Opening Hymn: LBW #250, Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty (ELW #533, LSB #901)

Hymn of the Day: LBW #161, O Day Full Of Grace (ELW #627, LSB #503)

Communion Hymn #1: LBW #331, Jerusalem, My Happy Home (ELW #628, LSB #673)

Communion Hymn #2: WOV #781, My Life Flows On In Endless Song (ELW #673)

Closing Hymn: LBW #552, In Thee is Gladness (ELW #867, LSB #818)




June 2, 2019: 7th Sunday of Easter, or Ascension of Our Lord, Transferred


Lessons for the Ascension of Our Lord


Acts 1:1-11 (the Ascension story)

Psalm 47 (God has gone up with a shout!)

Ephesians 1:15-23 (God has put all things under Christ’s feet, made him the head of the body; given you a glorious inheritance)

Luke 24:44-53 (you are witnesses: proclaim Jesus’ death and resurrection,  proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sin; Ascension in brief)


Lessons for 7th Sunday of Easter:


Acts 1:12-26 (Barnabas chosen to round out the Twelve)

            RCL: Acts 16:16-34 (Paul and Silas exorcise demon from slave girl; are thrown in prison; their chains miraculously broken;

jailers believe and are baptized)

Psalm 133 (Good and pleasant when brethren dwell together in unity)

RCL: Psalm 97 (The Lord is king; heavens and all nations bow down; Zion rejoices; God loves and guards the faithful)

Revelation 22:1-20 (the river and Tree of Life; final warnings and invitation  to the marriage supper; Come, Lord Jesus!)

John 17:20-26 (Jesus prays for all believers, that they be one as he and the Father are one)


I have chosen hymns that should be successful whichever lessons you are using;  or I have offered an alternative


Opening Hymn: LBW #328, All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name (ELW #634, LSB #549)

Hymn of the Day, Ascension theme: LBW #156, Look, O Look, the Sight is Glorious (LSB #495, Look, Ye Saints, the Sight is Glorious)

OR LBW #172, Lord, Enthroned in Heavenly Splendor (same tune as 156!)  (ELW #475, LSB #534)


Hymn of Day, 7 Easter theme: LBW #206, Lord, Who in the Night You Were Betrayed Did Pray  (ELW #463)

       OR LBW #358, Glories of Your Name are Spoken (ELW #647, LSB #648, Glorious Things of You Are Spoken)


Communion Hymn #1: LBW #157, A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing (ELW #393, LSB #493)

Communion Hymn #2: LBW #549, Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven (ELW #865, LSB #793)

Closing Hymn: LBW #158, Alleluia! Sing to Jesus (ELW #392, LSB #821)



June 9, 2019: Day of Pentecost


Genesis 11:1-9 (Tower of Babel and confusion of languages)

Psalm 143 (prayer of longing for God’s refreshing presence)

            RCL: Psalm 104: 24-35 (it calls for elimination of v. 35a, “Let sinners be consumed and the wicked be no more.” I dare you to keep it in.)

Acts 2:1-21 (Day of Pentecost and undoing of Babel)

John 14:23-31 (Love me, do my commandments; I am sending the Spirit who will remind you  of all my words; my peace I give to you)

RCL: John 14:8-17 ( See me, see the Father; if you love me, keep my commandments; the Father will send the Spirit of truth)



Opening Hymn: LBW #359, In Christ there Is No East or West (ELW #650, LSB #653)

            OR LBW #508, Come Down, O Love Divine (ELW #804, LSB #501)

Hymn of the Day: LBW #472, Come Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire

  (ELW #577,578, Creator Spirit, Heavenly Dove, somewhat different translation); (LSB #498, 499, yet another translation)

OR WOV #687, Gracious Spirit, Heed Our Pleading (ELW #401)

Communion Hymn #1: LBW #475, Come, Gracious Spirit, Heavenly Dove (ELW #404)

Communion Hymn #2: ELW #405, O Spirit of Life

OR LBW #488, Breathe On Me, Breath of God

Closing Hymn: LBW #285, Spirit of God, Sent From Heaven Abroad

OR LBW #257, Holy Spirit, Truth Divine (ELW #398) (LSB #496, Holy Spirit, Light Divine)



June 16, 2019: The Holy Trinity, also Father’s Day


Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31(the Wisdom of God, in whom all was created)

Psalm 8 (your works are excellent; what is man that you are mindful of him)

Acts 2:14a, 22-36 (Peter’s Pentecost sermon: Jesus is Lord and God)

            RCL: Romans 5:1-5 (We have peace with God through Jesus; the Spirit of him who raised up Christ is poured into our hearts)

John 8:48-59 (Before Abraham was, I AM)

            RCL: John 16:12-15 (The Spirit will declare all he has heard; will take what is Jesus’ that he received from his Father)



Opening Hymn: LBW #522, Come Thou, Almighty King (ELW #408, LSB #905)

OR LBW #544, v. 1-4, The God of Abraham Praise (ELW #831 v. 1-4, LSB #798 v. 1-4)

Hymn of the Day: LBW #535, Holy God, We Praise Your Name (ELW #414, LSB #940)

OR LBW #544, v. 7-9, The God of Abraham Praise

(ELW #831 v. 5-6, LSB #798  v. 5-7)

OR (may take place of Nicene Creed; however, if you use the Athanasian Creed on Trinity Sunday, you may switch this to the closing hymn)


Almighty Father, Creator Blest

Tune: Victory (The Strife is O’er)


Dedicated to the Pastors of the Society of the Holy

By Rev. Cathy A. Ammlung, STS


(before first verse; note, “in” is sung on two notes):

 Credo, credo, credo in_ unum Deum!

Almighty Father, Creator blest,

Worlds sprang to life at his behest;

Seen and unseen, his name they confessed:

Credo, credo!

Lord Jesus Christ, his only Son,

In truth and substance, they are one;

Pure Light from Light, in him life’s begun:

Credo, credo!

For us poor sinners, mortal and weak,

He came from heav’n, the lost to seek,

God’s Word made flesh, salvation to speak.

Credo, credo!

Born of the virgin, Mary most pure,

And of the Spirit, to be sin’s cure,

Christ became man; let praises endure –

Credo, credo!

For us, ‘neath Pilate’s judgment he died –

For us, our Lord was crucified,

For us, he rose again, glorified:

Credo, credo!

Ascended to the Father’s throne,

He shall return, to judge everyone,

And rule fore’er, as Lord and God:

Credo, credo!

Most Holy Spirit, life-giving Lord,

One with the Father and Son, adored,

Inspiring prophets’ holy word,

Credo, credo!

Making one holy Church in the world,

One with apostles, martyrs and Lord,

One through baptism with water and Word,

Credo, credo!

From sin forgiven, we are made free,

Christ’s life from death our future shall be,

Forever praising the Trinity:

Credo, credo!

(final refrain: as in opening)

Credo, credo, credo in_ unum Deum!


Communion Hymn #1: LBW #526, Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise (ELW #834, LSB #802)

Communion Hymn #2: LBW #169, Father Most Holy (ELW #415, LSB #504)

Closing Hymn: LBW #544, v. 9-11, The God of Abraham Praise (ELW #831 v. 7-8, LSB #798 v. 8-9)

OR  LBW #165, Holy, Holy, Holy (ELW #413, LSB #507)

OR ELW #845, Voices Raised To You We Offer (LSB #795) (very familiar tune!)






Devotion for Thursday, April 25, 2019

“You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, according to Your word.
Teach me good discernment and knowledge, for I believe in Your commandments. Before
I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.” (Psalm 119:65-67)

The prayer and hope for every
believer is to speak truthfully this knowledge that once we walked in the way
of the wicked, but now keep the commandments of the Lord. Walking in the way of
the wicked is the worst affliction that anyone can have. Keeping the Word of
the Lord is walking in the way of life. Come then into the presence of the Lord
and keep His commandments.

Lord, You know right where I am and the things that need to happen in my life. You know where I struggle in faith and the afflictions that these things cause. Guide me, O Lord, in the way of righteousness that I would now and forever love all that You have spoken. Lift me up out of the pit of affliction brought on by wickedness that I may walk humbly in Your presence.

Lord Jesus, You walked the valley of the shadow of death for our sake in places that would have destroyed us. Take me along with You that You would shepherd me out of the misery of this world and into the light of Your presence. Guide me, O Lord, in the way of truth. Guide me out of the wickedness of this world. Lead me, O Lord, that I may become ever more faithful to You. Amen

Devotion for Wednesday, April 24, 2019

“I am a companion of all those who fear You, and of those who keep Your
precepts. The earth is full of Your lovingkindness, O Lord; teach me Your
statutes.” (Psalm 119:63-64)

Do you regularly participate in
a fellowship? Not attend, but participate. Being a companion of those who are
on the journey of being faithful is important. If we do not stay together, we
will be picked off one by one. The Lord created us as social beings and we need
each other to be encouraged to fight the good fight of keeping the Lord’s
statutes. Walk with others in the way of the Lord.

You know O Lord the difficulty fellowships can be. Lead me, O Lord, to
be a part of the community in which You have planted me. Guide me according to
Your goodness that I would be as active as I am able. Lead me to both encourage
and receive encouragement to live into the life to which You have called me. May
I now and always abide with those whom You appoint in peace.

Lord Jesus, You called around you
those twelve into whom You poured Your life. Lead me to do the same with those
around me. Guide me O Lord in the way of truth that I would now and always walk
with You in fellowship and with those whom You appoint for me to walk in
fellowship. Guide me this day, O Lord, in the good way of the Father’s statutes
and precepts. Amen.

Letter From the Director – April 2019


My original plan was to share with you the letter I wrote to my synodical bishop regarding “Trustworthy Servants of the People of God.”  That is the document which the ELCA was considering to replace “Visions and Expectations” as a statement of the behavior that is expected of pastors and deacons.  But after receiving a very strong negative response to the document, the ELCA Church Council – at their meeting in early April – declined to consider it.  Instead they referred it back to committee for further review and redrafting.  After all of that, what I had been planning on writing seemed so out of date.  Therefore, instead I will be reviewing and evaluating what the ELCA Church Council had to say as it decided not to consider for adoption a document which had been recommended to them by the Conference of Bishops. 

the ELCA continues to be obsessed with sex. 
Any who thought (and maybe even hoped) that this obsession would subside
after the 2009 Churchwide Assembly should now see that this preoccupation will persist
until the radical, relentless LGBTQIA+ community and agenda get all that they
want.  Many times we of Lutheran CORE
have been accused of being obsessed with sex, as we have been advocating for
the historic, traditional view of human sexuality that the vast majority of the
world’s Christians for two thousand years have understood the Bible to clearly
be teaching.  We are not the ones who are
obsessed with sex.  We are not the ones
who keep on bringing up the subject, always pushing the perimeters one step
further.  Rather we are the ones who keep
on lifting up and holding onto traditional Biblical values and views as others
keep on pushing for an erosion of Biblical understanding and standards.

something is wrong if ELCA leaders do not realize by now what they have enabled
and even created by continuing to cater to the radical, relentless LGBTQIA+
agenda.  They have allowed it to become
more and more prominent and empowered.  One
group that appeared before the ELCA Church Council, which calls itself the
“Trustworthy Servants” Public Witness Team, wants at least 25% of the members
of a task force that would carry out the work of revision to be LGBTQIA
people.  The traditional view was trashed
at last summer’s youth gathering, the LGBTQIA+ community was able to force the
firing of a seminary president, and ELCA leaders refuse to stand up to a
movement which rejects marriage by any definition as normative for sexual
activity.  Is all this being allowed
because ELCA leaders agree with it, or do they feel powerless and unable to
stop it?  Either way we have a serious

the ELCA expects its leaders to be trustworthy, while the ELCA itself is not
trustworthy.  It was only after a very
long, painful, and divisive process that the 2009 Churchwide Assembly approved
the possibility of ordaining persons, and the possibility of congregations
calling persons, who are in publicly accountable, life-long, and monogamous
same gender relationships.  And yet the
ELCA has neither honored the commitments that were made nor remained within the
boundaries of what was actually officially approved.  The 2009 Social Statement, “Human Sexuality:
Gift and Trust,” describes a wide range of four positions on human sexuality
that exist within and that would have a place within “this church.”  The “Trustworthy Servants” document describes
only one acceptable position – that “those who serve as pastors and deacons
reflect a variety of sexual orientations and diverse gender identities” (page
11).  Even though the ELCA has broken
trust by developing a document that goes way beyond what the 2009 Churchwide
Assembly actually officially approved, it is not enough for the LGBTQIA+
community.  They have risen up against
it, claiming that the document’s expectations concerning marriage are shame
producing and not life-giving.  Therefore,
the ELCA Church Council declined to consider it and instead sent it back to
committee for review and rewriting – I assume until it turns out the way the
LGBTQIA+ community wants it. 

I am not aware of any statement from the Presiding Bishop concerning this
fiasco.  She will make and has made statements
on many things – including gun violence, immigration, the recent vote taken by
the United Methodist Church, and the Middle East.  But on subjects where a statement from her
could elicit a strong negative response – such as standing up to the “We Are
Naked and Unashamed” movement, dealing with a prominent ELCA “public
theologian” who advocates for sex outside of marriage and “ethically sourced
pornography,” and addressing recent state legislation on abortion which is
clearly contrary to the ELCA social statement on abortion – she is silent. 

what is the ELCA Church Council saying to and about the Conference of Bishops
when they decline to consider what the Conference had recommended?  What are they saying to and about the Domestic
Mission unit, which developed this document? 
What are they saying to and about the leaders of the ELCA for the first
twenty years of the life of the ELCA when they say that now they especially
want to hear from “those who have been most harmed by the misuse of ‘Visions
and Expectations’”?  How will they feel
if twenty years from now the new leadership of the ELCA most wants to hear from
“those who have been most harmed” by the statements and actions of the current
leaders of the ELCA?

made these five general statements about the Church Council’s response, I would
now like to comment on specific parts of their response.

First, the Church Council referred the document back to the Domestic Mission unit “for further review and redrafting that is governed by this church’s social teaching documents.”  And then it gives “Sexuality” as an example of one of those social teaching documents.  A couple things are significant here.  For one, the review and redrafting are not to be governed by the Bible and the Lutheran confessions, but instead by “this church’s social teaching documents.”  Once again, the ELCA sees itself as wiser and more insightful than the authors of the Bible and the writers of the Lutheran confessions.  Also, if this review and redrafting truly were to be governed by this church’s social teaching documents, it would have to include and respect the wide range of views that are described and honored in the 2009 social statement, not just the one view that endorses a “variety of sexual orientations and diverse gender identities.”

the Church Council said that they want a “process that intentionally includes diverse
voices.”  The “Trustworthy Servants”
Public Witness Team, which I previously mentioned, wants at least 25% of the
people on the task force to be LGBTQIA. 
Once again will the makeup of the group be so lop-sided that the end
result is predicable?  Will these “diverse
voices” also include voices that will give credible, respectable expression to
the traditional view?  Will there be
enough credible, traditional voices so that it will not be just a token group
so that the ELCA can say, “We also listened to the traditional view”?

the Church Council said that they especially want to include the voices of
those who have been most harmed by the misuse of “Visions and Expectations.”  What about the voices of those whose
congregations have been most harmed by the actions of the ELCA since 2009?  Do the leaders of the ELCA care – does the
LGBTQIA+ community care – about the amount of turmoil that has been created in
and the amount of damage that has been done to congregations where many, if not
most of the people, have traditional views? 
How can they say that there are people who have been “most harmed by the
misuse of Visions and Expectations” when the original wording in “Visions and
Expectations” was not misused but instead was applied in determining who would
be eligible to be a rostered leader in the ELCA?

Fourth, the Church Council said that they would support the Conference of Bishops in their “living into their commitment . . . to listen and take seriously the concerns of all our leaders – particularly those who historically have been marginalized.”  What about those who currently are being marginalized?  First as president of the board and now as director of Lutheran CORE, I have written many times to the presiding bishop and the sixty-five synodical bishops.  Over the years I have written on such subjects as the Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage, the ousting of the president of an ELCA seminary, last summer’s youth gathering, state legislation on abortion, the removal of our former director from the ELCA clergy roster, and the question of whether anyone from Lutheran CORE is welcome at a synod assembly.  Once in a while I do receive a response.  I would want to say that my own bishop was most gracious in her response to my letter to her about the “Trustworthy Servants” document.  But usually, if I do hear anything, the response rarely engages with and takes seriously what I have said.  Usually I am completely ignored.  I have written many times to the bishop of the synod in which I was rostered before I retired.  I have never received a single response to any of my communications.  When one is usually completely ignored, is not that person being marginalized?  Do the Church Council and Conference of Bishops only want to listen to and take seriously the concerns of those whom they say have historically been marginalized, or are they also willing to listen to and take seriously the concerns of those who currently are being marginalized?

As I read what has been posted on Facebook by some of the people who attended the meeting with the ELCA Church Council, and as I read statements from the “We Are Naked and Unashamed” movement, I conclude – If the real issue is that there are ELCA pastors and seminarians who do not want to have to be married in order to be sexually active and/or do not want to be limited, bound, or confined by the expectation that they will be monogamous, then the ELCA Church Council and Conference of Bishops should just admit it and state it rather than use all of this other language to make it sound better than and/or different from what it really is. 

Blessings in Christ,

Dennis D. Nelson

Executive Director of Lutheran CORE


Devotion for Tuesday, April 23, 2019

“I hastened and did not delay to keep Your commandments. The cords of
the wicked have encircled me, but I have not forgotten Your law. At midnight I
shall rise to give thanks to You because of Your righteous ordinances.” (Psalm

When you are surrounded by those
who do not practice the Lord’s commands, let it be that His commands are still what
are in your heart and mind. Do not forget His statutes, for only in Him is
there life and liberty. At all times, give the Lord thanks, for He has given
the beacon of His Word to guide us through every circumstance. Those around you
may speak loudly, but the Lord speaks from within.

Holy Spirit, lead my mind into meditation. Guide my soul to seek after
what is right and good always. Help me to know that in Trinity is the hope for
all. May I meditate day and night upon what is right and good. May I learn from
You how to navigate through all the troubled waters of this world. Lead me to
do what is right and always to be able to praise You for Your goodness.

Lord Jesus, You are the way and
have come to lead the way for all who will follow. Lead me this day that I may
practice righteousness in the sight of all those who speak in contrary terms. Teach
me how to live graciously amongst those who do not fear You. Lift up my
countenance that I may be Your light shining in a world that is wicked. Thank
You, Lord Jesus, for leading the way. Amen.

Devotion for Monday, April 22, 2019

“The Lord is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words. I sought
Your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to Your word. I
considered my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies.” (Psalm 119:57-58)

In what do you hope? What is it
you seek? It seems as though many seek for fortune and fame, but in this world
that is meaningless because when all is said and done, what is accumulated is
left behind. Seek as your first portion the Lord who is forever. Consider all
of your ways and look to the One who created all things. Seek His favor above
all things and all things necessary will be added.

Lord, it is difficult to see through this world’s fog. Help me, I pray,
to see first Your goodness and the truth that You have revealed. Lead me into
the righteousness You promise by grace through faith. Lift me up to be with You
where You are that I would forever hold fast to the truth of Your Word. Bring
me under the fig tree where I may meditate upon all that You have spoken.

Lord Jesus, lead me to the place where I become one in whom there is no guile. Through meditation, lift me up to be with You that I may become like You. I have considered the ways of the world and they are fleeting. I see, in You and the salvation You bring, hope and life. Abide with me Lord that I may now and forever abide with You. Be gracious to me according to Your word. Amen.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Devotion for Sunday, April 21, 2019

O Lord, I remember Your name in the night, and keep Your law. This has
become mine, that I observe Your precepts.” (Psalm 119:55-56)

The way of salvation is grace. Grace
enables all who come into it to begin the real work of learning the way of
righteousness. This is why Scripture tells us to work through our salvation
with fear and trembling. Yet, never forget that it is the Lord’s grace alone
that enables us to walk this journey. Come then into the salvation the Lord
offers and know His goodness forever.

You have called for us to learn faithfulness. You have called for us to
put into practice those things that You command. Through Your precepts and the
obedience of all that You command teach me the way of becoming like Christ. Let
it be true that I say that Your precepts are my precepts. Lead me in the way of
righteousness that I would forever hold fast to the truth of Your Word.

Lord Jesus, You have invited me
to walk with You. Guide me this day in those lessons I need to learn that I
would now and always walk in the way You would have me go. Let me see the
hindrances that I may learn to be bold in faith against the obstacles of this
age. Keep me close to You that I may grow this day in Your likeness and be
closer to what You are creating in me. Amen.