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Archive for January, 2014

Rev. John Klemp R+I+P

I said in the previous blog that I thought I had a pretty good handle on information from around the church but I missed this one too.  Here is another former Pastor of the Rock Lake North Dakota church.  Pastor Klemp holds a special place in my memory because he was the Pastor at my Fathers funeral.  He died in Wausau WI which is where my mother in law lives.  We talk about connections on this blog and look at the places where he served.  He and Pastor Korb showed that servant heart that marks those who rely upon the doing and dying and raising again of Jesus for them and want to share that with others.

REVEREND JOHN A. KLEMP JR.Reverend John Albert Klemp Jr., age 79, of Berlin, died on Monday, October 22, 2012 in Wausau.Pastor Klemp was born December 20, 1932 in Oshkosh, the son of John A. M. and Erna H. Reichmann Klemp. He was a graduate of Winnebago Lutheran Academy in Fond du Lac, Concordia College in Milwaukee, and Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO in 1958. On February 20, 1960, he was united in marriage to Darleen Fay Eman at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Flaxton, ND.  In infancy, Pastor was baptized and later confirmed in 1946 at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Winneconne, WI. He was ordained on July 11, 1958 at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Flaxton, ND. Pastor Klemp served his Vicarage at Faith Lutheran in Reidsville, NC. He served at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Flaxton, St. John in Larsen, and St. Mark in Portal, ND, as well as a vacancy in Estevan and Midale, Sask, Canada and Fortuna, ND between 1958-1964. From 1964-1973, he served Zion Lutheran at Hardwick, MN and St. John in Trosky, MN and from 1973-1976, at St. Peter in Wentworth, SD and St. John in Chester, SD. From 1976-1993, he served at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Cadillac, MI and Faith Lutheran in Mesick, MI. He served 1994-1999 at All Nations Lutheran in Rock Lake, ND, in 2000, as vacancy Pastor at St. Paul in Newton, Trinity in Mecan, and St. John in Busdin, WI; and from 2000-2002 as vacancy Pastor in Trinity Lutheran in Wautoma, WI. Pastor Klemp also served on Boards of Dakota Boys Ranch in Minot, ND, On-Going Ambassadors for Christ, Garrison Bible Camp in Garrison, ND, and Walther League Camp at Lake Okobjoji, IA. He was a member of St. John Lutheran Church in Berlin.

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Pastor Glen Korb R+I+P

glen Korb 2

I thought I had a pretty good handle on information from around the church and a good network of people who keep me informed of stuff.  My mother asked me if I had heard that Glen Korb had died and I hadn’t.  Glen came to Rock Lake North Dakota three months before I came to Grafton/Drayton and we became pretty good friends.  He became my parents pastor and his ministry was appreciated.

Glen was one of those bachelors that would wear plaid pants and suit coats.  I told him there was nothing wrong with that as long as it was the same plaid. I suggested that perhaps he simply wear his clergy blacks all the time, something I normally don’t encourage.  We went fishing through the ice on Rock Lake one winter and sure enough, under his overalls was the black clergy shirt.

He married Dr. Linda Tietz, a veterinarian.  Pastor Howard Jording had been giving honorary Doctorates from the University of Southern ND or something like that, I forget because I never got one.  He presented one to Pastor Korb and said, “I hereby present this to you so that you can get up in the morning and greet your wife by saying “good morning Doctor” and she can say the same”.  Pastor Korb was faithful and conscientious Pastor and I enjoyed his company.  He moved away and went to Minnesota and I lost track of him.  I am sorry about that.  This is a little late but….

October 29, 2013

Rev. Glenn L. Korb

The Mankato Free Press       Tue Oct 29, 2013, 04:29 PM CDT

— Rev. Glenn L. Korb, age 69, of Waseca died on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at his home in Waseca.
Glenn Lee Korb was born on March 15, 1944, in Du Bois, Pennsylvania to Jesse and Twila (Himes) Korb.  He attended school in Pennsylvania and worked for a time in New York State before entering the US Army in 1965.  He served two years, spending time in various locations in the US and in Germany.  In 1972, he received his Associate of Arts Degree and in 1974, he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the State University of New York in Buffalo. From 1974 until 1978 he studied to prepare for full-time ministry.  He received his Master of Divinity Degree on February 24, 1978 from the Concordia Theological Seminary at Fort Wayne, IN.  He was ordained at his hometown congregation in Troutville, PA on March 19, 1978.
Pastor Korb served All Nations Lutheran Church in Rock Lake, ND from April of 1978 until December of 1990.  He had also been pastor to Trinity Lutheran Church in Egeland, ND from 1978 until its disbanding in 1987.   He has served Trinity Lutheran Church-Wilton Township and Immanuel Lutheran Church-Freedom Township from January 1991 until August 2013.  He also conducted services at Colony Court and Lake Shore Inn.
He married Linda Tietz on September 26, 1980, at All Nations Lutheran Church in Rock Lake, ND.
He is survived by his wife, Linda of Waseca; four children, Sarah Korb of Milwaukee, WI, Rev. Jared Korb of Worland, WY, Micah Korb of Winter Haven, FL, and Caleb Korb of Fargo, ND.

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Commemorations of Saints and Feasts.

phil 4

I have been noticing that a lot of people like to use for their personal salutations, the words from St. Paul. that “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  That’s found in Philippians 4.  Saturday past was the feast of the conversion of St. Paul on the road to Damascus.  We do commemorations in our church too.  On those days we remember “saints” that have gone before us.  We believe that we should commemorate saints so that we can give thanks to God for faithful servants to His church; have our faith strengthened as we see the mercy God gave to those servants; imitate their life of faith in our calling.

On January 27th, yesterday we commemorated John Chrysostom, a preacher.  He is his turn commemorated St. Paul with the words below.

He summed up his attitude in the words: I forget what Is behind me and push on to what lies ahead. When he saw death imminent, he bade  others, share his joy: Rejoice and be glad with me! And when danger,
injustice and abuse threatened, he said, I am content with weakness, mistreatment and persecution. These he called the weapons of righteousness, thus  telling us that he derived immense profit from them.
― John Chrysostom, Homily 2, in praise of Saint Paul.

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When Do You “Cancel Church”?

blizzrd

I took this picture not to show how bad this storm was but to try and explain to people how bad it can get.  This was a ‘no travel advised “day and yet I could see the road.  Of course this in on the outskirts of town in a sheltered area but imagine if you were in the open.

We folks up here in North Dakota and Northern Minnesota know how bad the weather can get.  In fact folks that talk to us from other places say that we speak about “weather” as if it were an entity and sometimes that is the way that it seems.  It is hard for “outlanders” to get it sometimes, but to show you how sometimes you can’t beat it I found this article from about a month ago from up in Duluth.

DULUTH, Minn. – A snowstorm blanketing northern Minnesota has forced a church to cancel its annual lutefisk dinner. First Lutheran Church in Duluth had planned to hold the fundraising dinner Wednesday. But organizers say it was too risky to ask people to venture out into what could end up being 20 inches of snow by late Wednesday.

The annual salmon, meatball and lutefisk feed usually raises $10,000 for the church’s charitable programs.

Volunteers on Tuesday made 1,750 meatballs out of 200 pounds of beef.

The Duluth News Tribune reports the meatballs will be sold to church members Sunday at $5 a dozen. The 550-pound lutefisk order was canceled, and the 390 pounds of donated salmon probably will go to a local charitable meal provider.”

Unless you are from here you will never understand how hard a decision this was.  What do you do with 550 lbs of lutefisk since my Father has been gone for many years.  Were he still alive I could have helped them out.

I haven’t had had to make a decision that difficult since my early days as a Pastor.  We had a pretty good sized youth group back then and I was not trying to protect lutefisk but young people.  We were supposed to load them up on a bus and take them somewhere for a youth gathering and the word was out that a big storm was coming.  This was in November and I remember it well because there was no snow.  The storm was supposed to come at 3pm and I remember that because Church was over at noon and I announced that I had canceled the trip and that gave me 3 hours to question what I had done.  We didn’t have all the cool stuff the weather people have now and I also remember the strange specificity – 3pm.  So I agonized before Church and I called the president of the congregation at that time and I bet many of you remember him.  His name was Jim Maxwell and he was a teacher and a principal and a Superintendant of Schools.   He used to teach with his wife to be, Olwen, over in Cando where my mom and dad lived on a hobby farm until dad died and my mom is still there.  Anyway I asked him if I had done the right thing and he said that “all you can do is get the best information, look at the risk benefit ratio, make your decision and forget it”.  I thought that was good advice and then he added, “the same number of people will be mad at you whatever you do”.

So you can imagine at 3pm I was praying for a blizzard.  Nothing.  At 3:15 two lonely snow flakes flittered past my window.  I was about to despair when around 3:30 the snowflakes looked to be the size of half dollars and they were thick.  By 4pm we had a great storm going and I was happy.  I had protected a bus load of young people.  The storm lasted until late Monday and of course some folks said we should have left immediately after church and we would have made the event.  I pointed out that the kids couldn’t have come home for two days but that made no difference.  Maybe that was the point.  There were some that braved the storm and made it from other towns but the event center became a make shift motel.

So we have had warning of a “life threatening storm” that was supposed to come in very early this morning.  I got up about 3 am and all was well. 6 and all was calm.  I started to get ready and then thought  of the empty miles that I have to cover.  What if the storm came between services and I was in the open?  What about the folks that might come from the country, (even though they see the same forecasts I do)?  What about the organists etc. Anyway the first service is canceled.  A few minutes later the second one is canceled.  Now the question is what do you do with the service in town?  I’m here, do you cancel?    The parking lot is a mess and it is going to take a while to clean it up, what do you do?  The president made the call to cancel and I was glad he did, but you still get the questions – my wife says the Catholics didn’t cancel why do we?

Here is a teachable theological moment.  For Catholics church is an obligation.  I’m not being nasty I am being literal.   Literally, it is something you have to do.  I could drag out the old saw that for us Lutherans church is something you get to do, and for them it is something they have to do.  I was raised in a community of about 5000 people that had two Catholic Churches and a Catholic School and a Convent.  The one church was attended mostly by Latino’s, and  the other by folks from Ireland and Germany and Hungary and names that used to be found on European maps and are now changed to something different.  They had names like Techovik and Marchinovich.  But whatever the name, Martinez or Garcia or Malechich or Reynolds, they knew that they were Roman Catholic and they were taught one absolute rule about church attendance; they had to go every Sunday and every Holy Day of obligation.  No matter what.  They are no exceptions for weather or anything else.  If you had to work or were sick there were rules about that too. 

So as I watched a small group of Catholics struggle to get to church and home other questions came.  We have a pretty good number of folks that obviously don’t get the concept that church is something they “get to do” because they seldom do it and I would bet dollars to donuts that one or two of them showed up.  That is another story for another time.

So anyway I get to sit here in my chair and watch sports programs on a Sunday morning that I never get to see.  I can’t help but wish my dad were here to watch all the lead up to next weeks Super Bowl that his beloved Broncos will be appearing in for the first time in along time.  He could sit here with me and watch football and if we had that 550 lbs of lutefisk that would be special indeed.

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The Divine Service and Mission..

mission

I spend some time at mission conferences and I am always stunned at how something that should be pretty simple like “missions” has taken on the character of so much else in our life of faith and that is the individualistic nature of how “we” view it, or the attitude we take toward it.  Note that what has happened over the years is that there have been movements that try and define not only church, but mission.  There has been the liturgical movement, the emergent church movement, the small group – house church movement, the Missio Dei movement and on and on it goes.  Part of our problem is that in many ways for us to fund mission we have to define it so that others can make it “theirs”.  We spend a lot of time then in looking personal attitudes and motivations for why we do what we do.

I am rereading Micheal Horton’s tough book “Christless Christianity”  Baker Books 2008.  This on page 198

“The best way of reintegrating the marks and mission is to start with the gospel itself. I have to say that, at least in my experience, traditionalists and radicals both emphasize our activity over God’s. We come to church primarily to do something. We come to serve rather than to be served. Many traditionalists oppose seeker-driven approaches to mission by insisting that what matters in the service is not what we get out of it but what we put into it. God is the audience (receiving our worship) and we are the actors, according to many advocates of traditional worship. Seeker churches typically view themselves as resources for personal improvement, and the Emergent Church movement considers the church a community of world-transforming disciples. For all of their differences, each of these models practically ignores the central point that God’s mission is to serve us through the marks of preaching and sacrament and that the body will be built up in Christ together and bring its witness and good works to its neighbors in the world.

At one of the conferences I attended one of the delegates from a former Soviet Union Baltic State said the Divine Service nurtures us and delivers God’s gifts to us so that we leave the service to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world.  God serves us in the liturgy so that we can serve others.  I would like to think that is the reason for so much of the frustration in our church over the contemporary service over and against the liturgy but I am not sure it is.  But he spelled it out – missions is the result of God serving us.

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Christless Christianity Revisited

Christless Christianity“Christless Christianity does not mean religion or spirituality devoid of the words Jesus, Christ, Lord, or even Savior. What it means is that the way those names and titles are employed will be removed from their specific location in an unfolding historical plot of human rebellion and divine rescue and from such practices as baptism and communion. Jesus as life coach, therapist, buddy, significant other, founder of Western civilization, political messiah, example of radical living, and countless other images can distract us from the stumbling block and foolishness of ‘Christ and him crucified.’ This gospel may even be tacked on to the end of sermons. The question, however, is whether we are preaching the Word from Genesis to Revelation as a testimony to Christ or as a resource for writing our own story. In other words, the drift toward Christless Christianity can happen through addition as well as subtraction.” 144

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What Happens when Faith becomes “Private”?

me and Jesus

Ok – this is important for mission which is where we are headed with these blogs.

I said in the previous blog that, “more and more we hear talk of a churchless Christianity and a Christian less Church.” What I mean by that is that there is more and more evidence that some so called Christians believe that they have faith even though they don’t go to church and that others believe that they can go to church and not believe the “Word of God that endures forever”.

So for the first proposition that you can have faith in Christ but have nothing to do with his body which is the church is a none starter.  The church is God’s creation not a man made voluntary amalgamation of like minded people.  It is Christ’s body and it has marks – the Gospel and the Sacraments.  Where those are Christ is.  This isn’t my idea, it is God’s.  Our confessions say pretty clearly,  “The church is not only an association of external ties and rites like other civic organizations, but it is principally an association of faith and the Holy Spirit in the hearts of persons.” — Apology VII, 5.  The church is the place where the Holy Spirit calls and gathers and enlightens us.  It is God’s way of witnessing to the principalites and powers.  It is the place where God’s plan of salvation is preached “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” – Ephesians 3.

The other proposition is interesting and there is a lot of evidence that it exists.  Years ago someone wrote a long article about the number of Democrats that are Catholic and yet are rabidly pro-abortion.  The article finally got around to the point that “the great thing about the Catholic church in America is that you can go and participate and call yourself a Catholic and never have to believe a thing the priest says”.  Since then we have seen among those who do go to church more and more evidence that they do not always believe what their church teaches and therefore the church shopping aspect of life together takes place.  More and more are going to church for the social, entertainment, self – help  aspect.  They don’t necessarily believe what the church teaches because they don’t really know what the church teaches.  They go their for friends, or family or the music.

There is the strange aberration we see among some “believers” that Christ is Lord and Savior but they do not believe in the sacrificial nature of Christ’s person and work.  The idea of being washed in the blood of the Lamb is “gross” in the words of one of these folks.  As Micheal Horton (no Lutheran he) wrote a few years back “not thinking that ‘Christ crucified’ is as relevant as ‘Christ and Family Values’ or ‘Christ and America’ or ‘Christ and World Hunger,’ we end up assimilating the gospel to law. When people ask for more practical preaching, for a more relevant message than Christ and him crucified, what they are falling back on is law rather than gospel.”  (“Christless Christianity” page146 Baker Books 2008).

If the word of God endures forever that means that we witness to a timeless Christ that entered our time and space and shed His blood to destroy death and sin and hell.  A “Christian” by definition then is more interesting in dying to self than reinventing self; in preaching Christ crucified than Christ the self help guru.  That is what I mean by a Christian – less church.  So we have folks that don’t go to church and still believe they are Christians and folks that go to church all the time thinking they are when they aren’t.  Christian that is.  The sad part of all this is that it really comes down then to me and Jesus and it is whatever I conceive or hope Jesus is.  There is no mutual consolation and admonition of the brethren because they are busy trying to go through life with them and Jesus that you become a fellow traveler only as far as the therapeutic nature of your two faiths can take you.

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The Consequences of God’s Word Abiding Forever.

confess2At the end of the last blog I wrote, “Many young people today take the attitude of a character on a popular sitcom.
“ I don’t object to the concept of a deity, but I’m baffled by the  notion of one that takes attendance.”  Parents are not much better with their  constant appeals to the clergy that their “children have faith, they just don’t  come to church”.  Yet it is in the church that the public confession is most  visible and heard so that the confession can go outward from the local congregation.  We are gifted in the church to be gifts and be strengthened to “do” for others.  The generation that  “has faith but doesn’t come to church”, is also the generation that is silent  about whatever faith it has.  If it is not silent the confession made is usually shallow and sometimes Biblically incorrect.

One of the problems may be that we have lost something extremely important in our understanding of confession – confession means to speak back to God what he has spoken to us; to “not be ashamed of the Gospel; to witness like John  the Baptizer does in John chapter 1, and to do so with the “end of the age in mind”.  What I mean by that is that our witness, confession, testimony, is meant so that others “may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God and that by believing they might have life in His name.”  The Lutheran Confessors believed that their confession at Speyer that we talked about before, where they wore the motto “verbum dei manet aeternum” on their swords and livery, had to do with eternal life.  They said, “in matters concerning the honor of God and the salvation and bliss of our souls, each [imperial estate] must stand by itself before God and render account [Rom 14:12], so that no one can use the actions and decisions of a minority or a majority to excuse himself.”

At the end of the Augsburg Confession we read these words.  “May it please your imperial majesty to graciously consider that these matters do not concern temporal goods, land, or people, but the eternal salvation or damnation of souls and consciences; and God will demand that we render an account in the Last Judgment of our conduct in these matters.”

There are eternal consequences to our confession or lack of same. As Oswald Bayer has written,  “the fundamental matter at stake is that consciences are sharpened by the law and comforted by the gospel in view of the Last Judgment.  The immediate counterpart to this forum before God is the public confession before the world: “Everyone who confesses me before men, I also will confess before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father in heaven” (Mt 10:32f.) It is before this double forum that Luther makes his great confession of 1528 (Here I stand!).  Since God’s word of comfort remains forever and is therefore the criterion par excellence, responsibility for it must be exercised also in the political sphere and public square.

There are eternal consequences to the confession that you make by going or not going to church. You don’t merit or earn anything but you are making a confession.  As a deaf women said to her friend who asked her why she went to church since she couldn’t hear anything that was going on and the church could not afford a signer – “I want to show everyone whose side I am on”!

 

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Verbum dei manet in aeternum.

verbum dei

At the end of his lectures in 1531, Luther uttered a brief prayer and then dictated two  Scriptural texts.,

“The Lord who has given us power to teach and to hear, let Him also give us the power to serve and to do.”

LUKE 2 – Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, Good will to men.

ISAIAH 40 – The Word of our God shall stand forever.

The Latin translation of Isaiah 40 is “Verbum Dei manet in aeternum”, the Word of God remains forever.  That was the defiant motto of Luther’s protectors and benefactors; Frederick the Wise and his successors as well as of Philipp of Hesse, whose servants wore it on their livery at the Diet of Speyer in 1526. It was also the defiant motto of the minority of the princes at the Diet of Speyer in 1529.  According to the Encyclopedia Britannica –

The name Protestant first appeared at the Diet of Speyer in 1529, when the Roman Catholic emperor of GermanyCharles V, rescinded the provision of the Diet of Speyer in 1526 that had allowed each ruler to choose whether to administer the Edict of Worms (in which the Catholic Church and Charles V condemned Martin Luther as a heretic and enemy of the state). On April 19, 1529, a protest against this decision was read on behalf of 14 free cities of Germany and six Lutheran princes who declared that the majority decision did not bind them because they were not a party to it and that if forced to choose between obedience to God and obedience to Caesar they must choose obedience to God. They appealed either to a general council of all Christendom or to a synod of the whole German nation. Those who made this protest became known to their opponents as Protestants, and gradually the label was applied to all who adhered to the tenets of the Reformation, especially to those living outside Germany. In Germany the adherents of the Reformation preferred the name evangelicals.

At this meeting the confessors showed one of the most important points of the Reformation and that is that the word of God that remains forever is not just a private or personal word, (me and Jesus) but that the Word that remains forever is very much public and perhaps even “political”.  It is not a coincidence that verse 46 of Psalm 119, is the motto of the Augsburg Confession: “I will also speak of your decrees before kings, and shall not be put to shame.”

Many young people today take the attitude of a character on a popular sitcom.  ” I don’t object to the concept of a deity, but I’m baffled by the notion of one that takes attendance.”  Parents are not much better with their constant appeals to the clergy that their “children have faith, they just don’t come to church”.  Yet it is in the church that the public confession is most visible and heard so that the confession can go outward.  The generation that “has faith but doesn’t come to church”, is also the generation that is silent about whatever faith it has.  If it is not silent the confession made is usually shallow and sometimes Biblically incorrect.

We need to think deeply about this because it has tremendous implications on mercy and witness and missions.

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The Word of God Shall Stand Forever.

Isaiah 40

At the end of his lectures in 1531, Luther uttered a brief prayer and then dictated two  Scriptural texts.,

“The Lord who has given us power to teach and to hear, let Him also give us the  power to serve and to do.”

LUKE 2 – Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, Good will to men.

ISAIAH 40 – The Word of our God shall stand forever.

Luther’s belief that the word of God would stand forever does not mean that he believed that people would always believe it.  He listed all the places in the world where the Gospel had sped on and conquered and people believed and how after about a generation it all faded away and the people became pagan.  I said in the previous blog that, “more and more we hear talk of a churchless Christianity and a Christian less Church.”  How is that possible if the Word of the Lord stands forever, if most Christians have forsaken the public worship of the church at least in America.  These are important questions for Pastors and teachers, for parents and their children and their children’s children.  We are going to spend sometime on this because it is important for witness and mercy and life together, and for missions.

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