Sunday, July 30, 2006

Lutheran Carnival XXIX!!!!

Lutheran Carnival 29 is up at Hot Lutheran on Lutheran Action (blush). Thanks for hosting Kantor Sean!!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Role of the Pastor's Wife (as I see it...but I might be just a bit warped)

Over the past several weeks, I've had a few pastor's wives contact me, establishing connections. They are hurting women who are seeking healing from other women that they hope can understand. I do understand. In the nine years that my husband has been a pastor, I have experienced daily little hurts that can build up and occasionally a pain that I never thought was possible.

The daily process of being a pastor's wife in and of itself is awkward. I always say the part that bugs me the worst is the ontogeny of it. The very fact that there are 140 people that actually KNOW where I live bothers me. Very few other careers involve having the general public knowing and caring about where your family lives and what happens in their lives....celebrities and big time politicians are the only people that come to mind. I don't even know if my doctor HAS a wife. I don't know if the policeman that pulled me over several months ago has kids....let alone who they are and where they live. For a woman who grew up with a six foot block wall around her house and an unlisted phone number, this can leave me feeling simply vulnerable.

One thing that brings me comfort is the whole idea of vocation. God has given me certain tasks to do in life. I am a Christian, a wife, a mother, a homeschooler, a part-time social worker, a friend. Notice, I didn't say that I am a "pastor's wife" or "in the ministry."

The man that I am married to has received a Divine Call to provide care to this congregation by preaching The Word and administering the Sacraments and using these to forgive them, guide them, heal their wounds, and admonish them. He is to love them as Christ loves them. I happen to be married to him.

Where do I fit in? I'm his wife. I love him, raise his children, and try to provide a safe (though nowhere near neat) home. I rejoice in his love and honor and respect him. My relationship to the congregation? I'm a member. The things that I do in the congregation I do because I am a child of God and feel that God has given me gifts in certain areas so that I can serve there. However, I am serving God just as much in my home by raising good Christian children as I am by serving on any committee. Even more so.

My other vocations come first. I am a wife and a mother. These roles are sacred and were given to me by God. I am also a mother who has kept the responsibility for educating her children upon herself. That takes a certain amount of time and energy. It also means that I don't have free time during the day. Emotionally, it also means that if I do have time to do something at night, it is often something where I need to take care of me, so that I have something to give to my family (VBS? That's the ONE week I have off. No, I'm not teaching! Sunday School? No. I need to grow and learn. I teach through the week. Right now, I do Altar Guild and sing in the choir, that's pretty much it).

A professor at the seminary said that a pastor's wife shouldn't do a whole lot in the congregation. First of all, there are very few things that the pastor's wife can do that it wouldn't be better for people in the congregation to do. The more they serve their congregation, the stronger it is. There might be someone else who could actually grow in their role in the church if they fulfill the role that I might be swallowing up because I'm the pastor's wife and I can do everything! If my husband ends up being called elsewhere, the church will be left weaker if I've taken on a lot, because then they are left with a hole where his role was...and then one that the pastor's wife filled also. I've always clung to that (if only as a defense mechanism!)

I am an introvert. I am somewhat shy and I am uncomfortable in large groups. A key personality trait of introverts is that they are drained by social interaction. They can enjoy it...but afterwards, they need time alone to build up their energy again. I do well with interaction with only a few people at a time. I love my congregation...just not all at once. Some people get energized by serving and interacting with others. I don't. I enjoy it at times, but it leaves me depleted. I need to be aware of this...because if I overdo it, I get cranky, depressed, and mentally disorganized, and I can't meet my family's needs. That is more important.

I also am a rather emotional woman with two rather emotional children. There are Sundays where we wake up and it is clear that it just isn't worth it. I don't make my children go to church because they are the pastor's kids. Somewhere I did right, because they love church.

I also don't go to church just because I am the pastor's wife and I should be there. If I find when I wake up, that I am searching for clean clothes not because I want to hear God's Word and receive His forgiveness, but only because I am the pastor's wife, then I don't go. I have learned that it is a sign that I am overwhelmed by it all and if I push myself, it is not going to get better. I pray for God's forgiveness that on those days, His Word is not enough to get me there. The burden is far too heavy for me, so I give it to Him.

Just because my husband is called to serve the congregation doesn't mean that I have any obligation to fill a particular role. In this, I am not his partner. He is called. I am not. I am his helpmeet, to be sure, but I am not a co-pastor or a ministry partner. I am there to love him, listen to him, and be his friend. This takes a HUGE weight off my shoulders.

Does it make it easy? I wish I could say it did. Because I always know that others have certain expectations of me, and they don't necessarily see it the way that I do. They can be hurtful or distant in their expression of that. In certain situations, this can be very painful. However, I also sometimes see other pastors wives busting their butts into non-existence and their husbands' flocks still aren't happy with at least I'm at the same place without being completely overwhelmed with church duties.

One pastor's wife mentioned having her guard up against the congregation. At times, I think this is a good idea. I heard a theologian speak on forgiveness once who pointed out that forgiveness does not mean being stupid. If someone is repeatedly nosy, harsh, or otherwise, it does not mean that you leave yourself vulnerable to them, or expect them to be otherwise. Knowing that this can happen at anytime is being as smart as a serpent, in my opinion. However, knowing this also can leave me with my guard up at times it shouldn't be, and then I am not open to the beauty in the people that I worship with. I make it a point to pray for the people that I worship with. In my church, since each person goes up to the communion rail, I find that as I see them, it is easy for me to pray for them and what is going on in their lives (if I know...if not, I leave it up to God. He knows) and I thank God for them. When I do this, I find I am more open to each person individually, and I am giving the future over to God.

There are definitely days (too frequent to count) where I am brought to tears by this life and that I wish that my husband would find something else. Then I remember the souls that have been brought to faith because of him. I see how much he cares for his flock. I listen to him preaching in the pulpit....and I can't imagine him doing anything else....and until the next storm, I am comforted.

These are the things that I do to make it manageable. I hope this helps. Being a "pastor's wife" doesn't mean that you have a title and a role to fill. It doesn't mean that the congregation has any unique claim on your time and your energies. Serve God because you want to. Not because of who you married-- love and respect your husband. That is your role.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Just Killing Time

Only about an hour yet and my husband will be home. He's been gone all week in St. Louis....yes, with the storm and all - the heat and the power failure.

I'm sure some of the other blogsites will be happy that I will have adult conversation again and won't be seeking it as much from theirs. They hopefully will take comfort in the fact that they preserved my sanity this week.

Soon we're looking forward to heading off to Nevada and California. Disneyland, two Dodger games (at least), the ocean...and oohhh the restaurants. We are getting an In-n-Out Burger as soon as we leave the airport. I insist. Not to mention Rubios, Crocodile Cafe, and even Jack in the Box has been triggering cravings lately. Wrap that up with the most important thing...time with friends and family.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Levels of Friendship

I just got done forwarding off one of those cute emails that everyone sends around to everyone else. Each time I do this, I wonder..."do I know this person well enough to send them this?" I'm not even talking about an "off-color" message. Do you send these off to the person who just emailed you yesterday for the first time (I'd think not)....or only to people that you would trust your kids with in a major catastrophe? Am I presuming a particular intimacy that isn't there if I am the first one to send this (kind of like using the informal "you" in a foreign least once upon a time).

I grew up in a town where everyone had six-foot block walls around their properties and it was considered rude to show up on someone's doorstep without calling first. I remember my mom sitting in our house going "shhh" when someone knocked on the door, because she didn't want to talk to whomever was out there. I didn't blame her. If they hadn't called, they were probably Mormon missionaries.

Maybe because I'm Lutheran, too. It's not like we're often very huggy-friendly people. I'd have to admit, I myself would rather sit at the computer and talk to someone 2000 miles away than talk to someone face to face. (I remember when I was a kid, there was an article in Scholastic Magazine that was saying that someday, people would relate better to their computers and would stay in their house and wouldn't relate to if that were some sort of tragedy!!!) :)

I wonder about it with blogs and such, too. My wonderful husband has been out of town this week, and I've noticed that I've been compulsively blogging.....on other people's blogs. It doesn't help that early communion has been a topic. I bet you can't tell that one is an interest of mine. Have I overstepped my bounds? Am I saying too much? Am I being obnoxious? At least I have the comfort that Pr. Petersen "stole" that picture of my husband from my blog!

I do end up worrying about my kids' behavior and if they are being obnoxious...when often, they are being kids and other people realize this. I think my parents were really uptight about that, but I often find that right after I chewed out my kids for doing something, that they had absolutely no problem with letting me act that way. And my poor kids don't get a break from me! It's proper behavior prison at the Horn Household.
(ok...maybe I'm not that bad. maybe I am. maybe I should start capitalizing....naah)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

True and Worthy Communicants Part Drei

True and Worthy Communicants pt. 1

Communion Worthiness Revisited

This discussion has been continuing on Pastor Petersen's blog check it out.

Since after an issue is brought up, the natural tendency of a pastor's attention goes toward how to implement something, or more properly "The Practice" of how something is observed, and my tendency is, as a layman, to say "ITS WRONG, JUST FIX IT!" Praise God my vocation is not shepherding a congregation...that is left to finer MEN than me... so I thought I would just let Dr. Luther speak on the subject:

(from "An Order of Mass and Communion," 1523 A.D.)
printed in: Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings, Timothy F. Lull, ed. 1989

Here, one should follow the same usage as with baptism, namely, that the bishop should be informed of those who want to commune. They should request in person to receive the Lord's Supper so that he may be able to know both their names and manner of life. And let him not admit the applicants unless they can give a reason for their faith and can answer questions about what the Lord's Supper is, what its benefits are, and what they expect to derive from it. In other words, they should be able to repeat the Words of Institution from memory and to explain that they are coming because they are troubled by the consciousness of their sin, the fear of death, or some other evil, such as temptation of the flesh, the world, or the devil, and no hunger and thirst to receive the word and sign of grace and salvation from the Lord himself through the ministry of the bishop, so that they may be consoled and comforted; this was Christ's purpose, when he in priceless love gave and instituted this Supper, and aid "Take and eat," etc.

But I think it enough for the applicants for communion to be examined or explored once a year. Indeed, a man may be so understanding that he needs to be questioned only once in his lifetime or not at all. For, by this practice, we want to guard lest the worthy and unworthy alike rush to the Lord's Supper, as we have hitherto seen done in the Roman Church. There they seek only to communicate; but the faith, the comfort, the use and benefit of the Supper are not even mentioned or considered. Nay, they have taken pains to hide the Words of Institution, which are the bread of life itself, and have furiously tried to make the communicants perform a work, supposedly good in itself, instead of letting their faith be nourished and strengthened by the goodness of Christ. Those, therefore who are not able to answer in the manner described above should be completely excluded and banished from the communion of the Supper, since they are without the wedding garment.

When the bishop has convinced himself that they understand all these things, he should also observe whether they prove their faith and understanding in their life and conduct. For Satan, too, understands and can talk about all these things. Thus if the pastor should see a fornicator, adulterer, drunkard, gambler, usurer, slanderer, or anyone else disgraced by a manifest vice, he should absolutely exclude such person from the Supper - unless he can give good evidence that his life has been changed. For the Supper need not be denied to those who sometimes fall and rise again, but grieve over their lapse. Indeed, we must realize that it was instituted just for such people so that they may be refreshed and strengthened. "For in many things we offend all" [Jas. 3:2]. And we "bear one another's burdens" [Gal.6:2], since we are burdening one another. But I was speaking of those arrogant people who sin brazenly and without fear while they boast glorious things about the gospel.

When mass is being celebrated, those to receive communion should gather together by themselves in one place and in one group. The altar and the chancel were invented for this purpose. God does not care where we stand and it adds nothing to our faith. The communicants, however, out to be seen and known openly, both by those who do and by those who do not commune (RPW: this may answer the question as to whether those not communing left the service before the communion service), in order that their lives may be better observed, proved, and tested. For participation in the Supper is part of the confession by which they confess before God, angels, and men that they are Christians. Care must therefore be taken lest any, as it were, take the Supper on the sly and disappear in the crowd so that one cannot tell whether they live good or evil lives. However, in this matter I do not want to make a law, but simply want to demonstrate a decent and fitting order to be used in freedom by free Christian men.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

To My Dear and Loving Husband

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole Mines of gold
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompetence.
Thy love is such I can no way repay.
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let's so persever
That when we live no more, we may live ever.

- by Anne Bradstreet

When I was in high school and read this poem for the first time, I thought "that's the kind of love that I want to have for my husband." I read it every once in a while and thank God that I do. But....I can't say it better than Mrs. Bradstreet
Lutheran Carnival XXVIII is up!!! Thanks to Vicar Chaz Lehmann for hosting!!!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Happy Anniversary, Honey.

It was probably about 15 years ago right about now, that I was up at Arrowhead Lutheran Camp, and I went to 7-11 with my good friend, Jeff, whom I'd met that year. It seemed like we'd always known each other. In some ways, we had. The Lutheran world is a small world (cue music!) and we had many of the same friends.

Anyway, I digress. We got out of the car, and I saw this great dog. An Alaskan Husky with peachy brown spots. I said "That's a cool dog. I want a dog like that." "Why don't you get a boyfriend?" he asked. "They're easier."

I don't know if I was more taken aback by the idea that he was telling me that he was interested in filling that role, or at the very idea that a boyfriend is actually easier than a dog (with a've won the majority of the battle once you stop them from chewing on things and have them housetrained). I don't think he knew what he was saying, either...exactly. (I'm more cat-like...he had to win my heart with backrubs...purrr).

But within a couple of weeks, we'd had our first kiss and now, 12 years ago today....we were married. Despite some hard times, five babies (3 in Heaven), and some tremendous joys , it has been the most wonderful 12 years of my life. You're not easier than a dog, Sweetie.....but you are a much better friend. God has blessed me completely in you. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 13, 2006

At our church, the pastor has recently been considering going a little more radical in our worship services.....

(just kidding....the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo came and brought us some animals to enjoy at our Vacation Bible School....since the theme was looking for treasure, I guess they decided to bring animals you might find when digging for that treasure...we had some frogs and a hedgehog too! Ewww and hissing cockroaches!)
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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Communion Worthiness Revisited

In my last post on communion, a vicar named Greg posted a very interesting response. There were a lot of questions and considerations in it, and I must admit, I had some difficulty adequately replying in the “comments” section. Since there were a lot of issues brought up, obviously the response is even longer. If you’d like to see his original post, it is here. I tried to edit what I could. I did ask Greg for permission to post parts of his note, but did not hear back. He will undoubtedly learn that the life of a pastor means that plenty of times, opinions that are NOT his will be attributed to him, so I took the liberty of doing so anyway, since he did already choose to post publicly.

As a part of a synod, what impact might there be on other congregations (community, circuit, district, etc.) when the decision is made to welcome children to the table on an individual basis?

I see two issues as being pertinent. Maybe you could share others. First, when a young communicant visits a congregation and comes to the table. Knowing this is not always the practice, parents often take the lead and contact the pastor before Sunday, and ask if the child may commune at his church. I have also seen a pastor handle this well at the table. When he got to my son, he simply asked “confirmed?” and when I shook my head no, he simply blessed him and moved on.

The other issue is if a family transfers in. This can be a bigger issue. But I think that it is a good situation for raising the issue, because a congregation should have a process for confirmation only because they have thought about it and believe that it is right….not because it is what we have always done. Considering how many of our confirmation practices were developed during the ages of Pietism and Rationalism, its about time that we looked at them again.

At any rate, the congregations will have to face this issue. In the Agenda for the new hymnal, there is a Rite of First Communion, which was determined to be a need since over 25% of all LCMS congregations are now separating first communion and confirmation.

(regarding his student) For the sake of good order, might it be helpful to ask her to refrain until she is confirmed with her class?

Absolutely….but we are not quite talking about the same thing. I am talking about children who have been baptized in the faith and raised in the faith…hopefully catechized by their parents or in school and believe in the real presence; are aware of their sinfulness; have a basic understanding of the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, and the Words of Institution. These are the general requirements that Luther specifies for admission to the table…for all Christians. This kind of knowledge is easily attainable for your average seven or eight year old (and often younger) whose parents read and discuss a small section of the catechism on a regular basis and pray Luther's Evening Prayer with their kids. Of course, the pastor still has the responsibility of examining anyone who wants to come to the table.

But then our children are strengthened by one more Means of Grace that God gives us and commands all believers to partake in. In this world which the devil prowls so visciously, getting our children to that point should be of the utmost importance, to further strengthen their faith, and to not delay it any longer than can be otherwise justified.

Our standards for the children that we have raised in the faith since infancy are often harder than the ones we have for adults who have lived their entire lives separated from proper doctrine. Four to eleven weeks as opposed to two years? Some churches require papers and speeches from their 13 year olds that they wouldn’t dream of asking their adult confirmands. And these are from people that we have seen grow in the faith since birth.

You should explain to your student that when she partakes of the body and the blood of Christ that she is confessing that she believes what everyone else here at the table believes. The purpose of the class is to go over that, so that when she does take communion, she is aware that she is confessing that she believes the same thing (namely, who God is (Apostles Creed), what he does for us (Lord's Prayer), that we are sinful and need a Savior (Ten Commandments) and in the Real Presence (Words of Institution), because by partaking, she is confessing that she is one in faith with us.

So often, when using 1 Corinthians 11 to "stretch" the agreed upon understanding of "close" communion, people ignore the fact that Paul is writing to a specific congregation, and that those individuals he is addressing have been previously taught. So, if Paul sees it fit to withhold the Supper from members of a congregation, might it follow that we may need to do the same-youth or adult?

Yes, and the EXACT same argument you are using (though you have made it clear it is not your argument, but one you hear from liberals) was the one that the Catholic Church used to justify withholding the blood of Christ/wine from the laity in Holy Communion in Luther's time....pretty much word for word.

There is a difference between withholding the Lord’s Supper from someone who is in unrepentant sin, which is what was going on in 1 Corinthians 11, and just withholding it because they are not the age that the current school of thought thinks is appropriate. If a child knows what is needed and desires the comfort and forgiveness that Holy Communion gives, he should be admitted to the table.

As for the argument that I Corinthians 11 is addressed to one congregation, Luther says specifically regarding this particular chapter:

“What could be more ridiculous and more worthy of our precious friar’s intellect than to say that the Apostle wrote that passage, and gave that permission, not to the church universal, but to the church at Corinth, a local church?....When the church universal accepted and read the epistle, and obeyed it completely, did it not also obey this passage? If we admit that any epistle of Paul’s, or a single passage in them, does not pertain to the church universal, all Paul’s authority is nullified….Away with the idea that there is a single syllable in the whole of Paul which the whole church is not obliged to follow and obey. That was not the view of the Fathers, up to the perilous present.” - The Babylonian Captivity of the Church

What did Luther, Melancthon, and the other reformers mean when they confessed that "he who believes" takes his rightful place at the Sacrament? Did they commune children before they had received proper, sometimes years, of instruction? No, in fact, those who had not received sufficient instruction left the sanctuary just prior to the "Service of Holy Communion."

I know that the ancient church had catechumens and non-believers leave before the Lord’s Supper, but I honestly do not know of the church in Luther’s time. Also, children of believers did not leave. Parents still needed to watch their children, whether they communed or not. From what I've read, it was common in Luther and Melancthon’s time for the focus of the sermon to be on catechizing the congregation regarding Holy Communion EVERY time they celebrated Mass, since the people had never been educated as to what they were doing, other than it was a work required by God. Then, after the sermon, the congregation partook of the Lord's Supper. The baptized faithful were not kept from the table while they were being educated. Consider Luther's patience over several years while he allowed some to continue taking only the bread because their faith was so weak.

The increasing strictures that were put on communing children were a result of contamination by reformed doctrine (see Confirmation in the Lutheran Church, by Arthur C. Repp, 1964). Melancthon and Bucer, two who set up standards for confirmation of youth, were influenced by Erasmus, according to Repp. Luther and those who followed him closely weres against confirmation as a rite, because they did not want it confused with the Catholic teaching that it was a sacrament and necessary for salvation. Luther eventually acquiesced, but only with clear understanding that it was different and not necessary.

Thank you for your thoughts. You’ve made me think on many things. I really enjoy discussion on this topic and I look forward to continuing to learn.

God bless

go to part III

Now if Only Drysdale had Been Here.......
I hate to admit it, but I have to say, I think it was appropriate that they beaned YOU last night, Shawn. I even said it to my husband when you came to bat in the 7th inning.

I mean, it had to be done. Sure, you're nice, not to mention really really cute but it had to be done. Your team hit Nomar THREE times and Russell Martin once. Someone had to be hit, and since you'd been a thorn in our side for the years you were was only appropriate that you received a 95 mile per hour fastball in yours....just this once.

Sometimes, when you are your team's most consistent hitter, it means you have to be the one who takes one for the team (and you are very consistent...when you played for us, you consistently hit the ball right into the double play I'm so glad that you are in a place where you are comfortable now). I know it was hard for you to adjust to Playing in L.A. and all, but it hasn't seemed to be tough for Nomar.....and he's not too hard on the eyes, either.
(isn't he so cute with Mia, here!)