Pastors' Blog

On October 14 the Evangelical Lutheran Synod observes the centennial of its reorganization. Although the synod was reorganized in June 1918, the date of October 14 bears special significance because of its importance to the Norwegian Synod.

2018 is the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Learn about the origins of the synod in this video documentary produced by the Centennial Committee of the ELS and read a brief history in the pamphlet “Growing in His Mercy.”

Our goal is everlasting life with God, but this world has many other attractions. The Old Testament and Gospel readings for this Sunday reveal our struggle, and the Epistle reading gives the solution.

In God’s plan of creation, the Father has thought of everything needed in this life. Recognizing that man should not be alone, God provided him a partner. Even if we are not married, we are never alone in this life, for Jesus is always with each of us. The readings for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost use marriage and brotherhood as a picture of the gospel—the relationship between Christ and his believers.

Jonah chapter 3 could have been a beautiful finish to the book. The prophet preached, God’s Word was effective, the Ninevites repented. But there is a chapter 4. And this last chapter reveals that the story was never about Jonah and the Ninevites all along. This is a story about God and his own people—about how God deals with his own angry children. God is trying to get his own people to see that they need his grace as much as anyone else.

Our study of the book of Jonah continues this week with chapter 3. Jonah went to Nineveh, the city of his enemies, and delivered a very strange, very short sermon at which the people of Nineveh have a very surprising response. The city was indeed overturned, but not Sodom-and-Gomorrah style. Chapter three explores the meaning of the biblical word ‘conversion.’

This week at King of Grace we are continuing our study of the book of Jonah. In chapter 1 we saw Jonah asleep at the wheel, headed down, down, down in his flight from God. But we also saw God’s merciful pursuit of Jonah, trying to wake him up. In chapter 2 we find out that it worked! Finally Jonah is awake and praying to his God. This chapter is an invitation to the reader to participate in Jonah’s experience of prayer in the midst of suffering. Jonah didn’t know it, but God was already bringing him back to life in the midst of his death.

The book of Jonah is a satire, using extreme circumstances, humor, and irony to critique the stupidity and character flaws of Jonah—and ultimately to critique the reader. The story is not about the fish, and it’s not even really about Jonah. The prophetic message of this book lies in God’s compassionate dealings with human beings everywhere.

The scene is so familiar. Parents, children, the Divine Service, and all the “accessories” that come along for the ride—the children’s bulletins, the scraps of “scribble paper,” the Cheerios, and the crayons. Each week, we parents go to great lengths to keep our children occupied during the worship hour. We know how our children, especially the younger ones, can become when they are bored or ignored, and we really don’t want to see that in public.

But is there something beyond merely keeping our children occupied for the time being? Is there some way to move in the Divine Service “beyond Cheerios and crayons”?

Many Christians use the word ‘blessed.’ But as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride said, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”