Articles tagged with: lutheran

26 August 2013

Catechism as Platform: Teaching Catechism in a Digital Age

Posted in Spirituality, Church

livingwordonlyToday I begin co-teaching, along with Martin Lohrmann, a new online class at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia called Catechism as Platform: Teaching the Catechism in a Digital Age.

Here's the course description:

Luther's catechisms were written to invite parents, youth, teachers and pastors into a way of life built upon the good news of Christ crucified and risen for us. In 21st century terms, his catechisms were more like a "platform" than a "page." This course will study Luther's Large and Small Catechisms, with an eye on the many ways they continue to inform faith, worship, prayer and daily life. At the same time there will be a focus on developing fluency in today's digital technology, learning to communicate Luther's "platform of faith" through various social media resources. The course assumes that the catechisms are assets for public theology, sharing the faith both inside and outside our churches.

Needless to say I'm excited about the class, mainly because I think we are charting some pretty new territory when it comes to teaching the catechism in a world shaped by digital social media.

05 December 2012

Remembering The Rev. Dr. Ronald Thiemann

Posted in ELCA, Leadership, Church

On December 5th I had the honor of preaching the funeral sermon for my mentor and friend, The Rev. Dr. Ronald Thiemann. We lost him too soon and will miss him greatly.

ron thiemannFirst Meeting

I remember the first time I met Ron Thiemann. It was 1996 and I was a newly minted first year Master of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School and Ron was the Dean. I was invited, along with all first years, to the traditional welcome cookout at Jewett House, the Dean’s residence. We shook hands in the receiving line and said hello. And that was it. In that brief moment, neither of us could have possibly imagined that our journeys would somehow lead us here today.

I never had a class with Ron, a fact he would later tease me about frequently. I tried to explain that he just wasn’t in my area, but he didn’t buy it. But I did see him often. You know, at Harvard, professors are our versions of celebrities and Deans all the more so. I remember seeing Ron walking hurriedly across the Div School campus. I’d say, “Hey, there’s the Dean!” It was like seeing a theological rock-star. I knew that he was brilliant, important, and busy teaching and guiding the Divinity school, which he did for 13 years.

So, perhaps you can imagine that when Ron and Beth appeared unannounced for Sunday worship here at Redeemer when I was serving as pastor, I had to do a double take. I peeked into the sanctuary from the back door and said, “Is that the dean? That’s the dean!” I walked up and, I’ll never forget, I nervously said, “Hello, Professor Thiemann, I’m Keith Anderson.” And Ron said, “Yes. I know.” Eek! And then I had to preach in front of him a sermon I didn’t particularly like. My heart thumped in my chest as it did for my sermons in the weeks to come. After weeks of calling him Professor Thiemann, he finally had to say, “Keith, please, call me Ron.”

And in the time since, I came to know Ron, not only as the incredibly accomplished scholar and institutional leader, advisor to political, religious, and business leaders, but as a colleague, a wise mentor, and, truly and most of all, a friend.

29 March 2012

Why I Don't Pray the Bidding Prayer for Jews on Good Friday

Posted in Church

latin-missalThe "bidding prayers" appointed for Good Friday liturgy include this prayer for Jews:

"Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God. Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and your teaching to Moses. Hear our prayers that the people you called and elected as your own may receive the fulfillment of the covenant's promises. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen."

It may seem innocuous enough, but this prayer has a long and dark history in the Church.

19 May 2011

Beyond the Printing Press: Thinking Theologically About Social Media

Posted in Social Media

printing pressAfter one of my recent workshops on social media, one of the participants confessed that she had money riding on my presentation.

She and a friend had wagered on how long it would take me, a Lutheran pastor, to mention the Printing Press.

She won. It was the third slide.

When Lutherans (and many others) talk about social media, we often take the printing press as our starting point. Its our way of describing the amazing revolution that is taking place in communications today - and our way of thinking about how we harness new forms of media to share God's grace.

However, As Elizabeth Drescher argues in Tweet If You Heart Jesus: Practicing Church in the Digital Reformation, the parallels between social media and the printing press may end there.

Yes, they both represent a dramatic shift in communications. However, while the printing press marked the dawn of broadcast (or mass) media - communicating your message to many people at one time with little opportunity for comment, today's social networking actually resembles the communal reading of the medieval period, which was more interactive, social, and crowdsourced.

I wonder: how do we get beyond the printing press? How can we engage social media theologically? After all, the printing press and social media are only tools. Where can Lutherans locate social media in our theological framework?

For me, the most compelling theological category is vocation.

02 May 2011

Shifting the Focus to Congregations: The ELCA LIFT Report

Posted in ELCA, Church

LIFT ReportEvery mainline Protestant denomination is struggling with declining membership, decreasing financial support, and the question of how best to be the Body of Christ in this time.

In response, my denomination, the ELCA, created the LIFT (Living into the Future Together) Task Force, which was charged with making recommendations on how to change our denominational structures or "ecology" in order to help best fulfill our mission today.  The task force issued its final report to the ELCA on April 11th.

My short take is that the task force shows very good instincts, particularly in its overarching recommendation regarding the shift of focus and resources to local congregations. However, I think the report also falls victim to three persistent problems we face in our church ecology.

18 April 2011

I'm Lutheran. She's Jewish. My Interfaith Family Wrestles With Holy Week

Posted in Culture, Church

an-old-wooden-cross-photographic-print-c120400861Last year during Holy Week Boston Globe columnist James Carroll issued a stern warning to preachers.

He wrote that although Holy Week is the most sacred time of the year for Christians, it is also the most dangerous -  because Holy Week has often been the cause and occasion for great violence, especially against Jews.

He recounts, as he does at greater length in his book, Constantine’s Sword, the way that Christians have, until relatively recently, blamed Jews for the death of Jesus, and how the passion readings, for centuries, incited people to leave their churches on Good Friday and commit terrible acts of violence against Jews.

It is a haunting legacy that impacts us still. And so, his plea to preachers is this: “preach peace.” Preach peace in Holy Week.

[12  >>