Saturday, June 17, 2017

Boiler Plate letter to send out to protest the deportation of Christian Indonesians from Central Jersey

         I am writing to you as a member of St. Stephen Lutheran Church. It has come to our attention that members of First Indonesian Seventh Day Adventist Church, a congregation who shares a worship space with us, have been deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
         In previous years they were allowed to remain in the United States because it was dangerous for them to return to Indonesia; as Christians, they would be persecuted there. This danger has not ceased, yet this year they were deported.
         I protest their deportation. This action is endangering their lives.
         I hope House Resolution 2642, the Indonesian Family Refugee Protection Act, if passed, will eventually protect people in similar situations.
         Even if HR 2642 does pass, I still have concerns about a deportation regime that sends people into harms way like this. It certainly does not express my values as a Christian who is called to love the sojourner and stranger.

In Christ’s Peace,
Pastor Chris Halverson

ICE Newark - Community Relations Officer
970 Broad Street
Newark, NJ, 07102
President Trump
The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500
The Honorable John F. Kelly
Secretary of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C.  20528

Representative Frank Pallone
67/69 Church St.
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Trinity/Confirmation Sunday Sermon


         Cassandra, Sean, Alexys, and Rebecca—you might remember back to that crossword puzzle about the New Testament we did together—the answer to one of the questions—3 down maybe—was “The Great Commission.”
         After his resurrection, Jesus calls on his remaining followers to make disciples of all nations—baptizing them in the Triune name, teaching them to obey Christ’s commands, and assuring them of his ongoing presence with them.
         You four are baptized into the Triune faith, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and up until today the adults in your life have been carrying that faith for you—those promises made at Baptism have been their responsibility. But today, you will affirm your Baptism—affirm those promises—take on the faith as your own.
         On this Trinity Sunday, the Sunday of your confirmation—I pray that “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you.”

-The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
         How may I best describe the grace of God we find in Jesus Christ to you?
         One of the gifts of the Early Church was that they chose not to define too closely what Christ did for us.
         Personally I like describe Grace grammatically
—grace makes our reality because/therefore instead of if/then
Because God loves you, you are loveable—instead of if you are lovable then God will love you… i
n other words God acted first for our sake. We’re not paying off God, but instead God has given us the gift of Jesus Christ.
         There have been many other ways to describe the Grace we find in Jesus Christ, they are often bound to particular time periods—to different experiences of Christians in different eras.
For example:
-We’re debt slaves to Satan / God pays that debt with Jesus.
-We’re occupied by Sin, Death, and the Devil / Jesus defeats them and liberates us.
-We don’t know what a good human life would look like / Jesus lives such a life that we may do the same.

         You 4 spent a while studying Luther’s Small Catechism, so I’m sure you remember that in Luther’s case he reminds us Christians that Jesus is our redeemer. We’ve lost our way and been condemned for it. More than that we’ve been captured as if in a battle, by sin, death, and the devil.
         Jesus crosses into enemy territory and buys us out of that captivity at the price of his precious life.
What he has done for us frees us from the deathly Kingdom and joins us to the Kingdom of God. We are now citizens of the Kingdom of God; adopted into the family of Jesus Christ.
         And, Dear Confirmands, as you continue to grow in your faith—like generations of Christians before you
—you’ll think through the meaning of Grace in ways that make sense to you in light of your experiences.

-The Love of God
         God created all that is, seen and unseen, and declared it good.
         This is a radical statement about who God is.
         When you compare the accounts of creation in Genesis to the other stories out there at the time, the point of this bit of poetrybecomes poignant!
-God creates with the powerful, yet gentle, word, not through volatile acts of violence.
-God creates for companionship and for good—I dare say out of love! Everyone else describes the divine as enslaving humans for service and enmeshing us in an icky and innately evil creation
—but here we have a different story—we are created out of love!

         For that matter, just as God’s creation is declared good it is worth remembering that all good things in creation
—this soup of life in which we live and move and have our being
are from God.
All good things in creation are from God.
Luther, being Luther, goes to his most basic thing—shoes.
Every time our
a sole
instead of
the ground
should be a reminder to us that God has provided generously for us!
God loves us!

-Communion of the Holy Spirit
         The Spirit connects us to God and to one another.
         The Spirit makes us Holy—connected to God.
She does it to us through faith.      
We’ve already been redeemed/ the Spirit makes us believe it!
God is already for us/ The Spirit let’s us trust it to be true!
The Spirit creates faith.
         We are connected to God through particular things—concrete things—though scripture and preaching, through Baptism and Communion, through forgiveness found in this faith community.
         One of the things I reminded you all
—I may even have horrified your adults in the process
—was that going to church with people with whom you disagree, who you don’t even like, is a mark of the church
—we inevitably rub up against each other, hurt each other, but God willing, and I mean that literally, the church is just the place for that
—we can practice forgiveness here, so that we might perfect it in the world around us. 
We practice connecting to one another here, building bridges over rivers of hurt
—we do this by the power of the Holy Spirit.

         Rebecca, Alexys, Cassandra, and Sean, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you. A+A