The Canadian Lutheran January/February 2021

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CANADIAN

The

LUTHERAN WWW.CANADIANLUTHERAN.CA

VOLUME 36 NUMBER 1 - JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021

God meant it

for Good


Photo: LWF/ P. Omagwa

THANK YOU! In a year of great need, your gifts have changed lives! Your partnership has been vital in 2020. As the world has faced the new challenges of COVID-19, you did not forget those who are in need of nutritious food, clean water and their basic rights — thank you.

Your generosity has been life-saving this year. To learn more about how you made a difference in 2020, visit clwr.org


CONTENTS FEATURES www.canadianlutheran.ca Volume 36 Number 1

January/February 2021

God Meant it for Good Opportunity in an Online Age Teach Them to Know... or Teach Them to Do?

DEPARTMENTS TABLE TALK

Something New

REGIONAL PASTORS

Cover Art by Joshua Eckstein: https://unsplash.com/@mr_ejpg

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West: Dust You Are Central: 70 vs. 40 East: Do We Really Need Lent This Year?

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Farewell to Alleluia

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PRESIDENT’S PONDERINGS

NEWS SECTIONS The Canadian Lutheran is the national publication of Lutheran Church–Canada, published in Winnipeg six times per year: January/ February, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November/December under the auspices of the Board of Directors (Committee for Communication and Technology). ISSN #0383-4247 Member: Canadian Church Press Editor: Mathew Block Design: Alex Steinke Advertising: Angela Honey Subscriptions: $30/yr Or Buy-One-Gift-One: $50/yr Email: a.honey@lutheranchurch.ca All material and advertising should be in the office of The Canadian Lutheran five weeks prior to publication date. Advertising rate card available upon request. The Canadian Lutheran 3074 Portage Ave. Winnipeg, MB R3K 0Y2 Telephone: 204-895-3433 FAX: 204-897-4319 Email: editor@lutheranchurch.ca Materials published in The Canadian Lutheran, with the exception of Letters to the Editor, news reports, and advertising, receive doctrinal review and approval before publication. Contents of supplements are the responsibility of the organization purchasing the space. ©2021 Lutheran Church–Canada. Reproduction of a single article or column for parish use does not require the permission of The Canadian Lutheran. Such reproductions, however, should credit The Canadian Lutheran as the source. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

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NATIONAL NEWS

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WEST REGION

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ILC to postpone World Conference until 2022 • Finnish Lutherans enter into fellowship with the LCMS In Memoriam: Pastor Ward Irwin Yunker • LCC Synod Convention dates set, logo released

King of Kings reaches out with Advent VBS • Martin Luther’s Candy Farm

CENTRAL REGION

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Long-term church administrator retires • Rev. Daniel Barr marks ten years in the ministry

EAST REGION

MISSION NEWS

Online Advent Celebration • The Waterloo Region Ride for Refuge 2020 • Resurrection Lutheran moves upward

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ANNOUNCEMENTS SUPPLEMENT

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BC Mission Boat Society Sharing God’s Love from a Distance

EDUCATION NEWS

Quest Course on the History of the Bible • CLTS releases new edition of sacred poetry

IN REVIEW: MULAN

@thecanadianlutheran @lutheranchurchcanada THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

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Did you know that the first broadcast of The Lutheran Hour occurred on October 2, 1930? Dr. Walter A. Maier was the Speaker. The Lutheran Laymen’s League had a vision of spreading the Gospel message using the ‘young’ technology of broadcast radio. For more than 90 years, the call of Christ has been carried around the world by radio waves to share the Good News. With over one million listeners every week, The Lutheran Hour continues to share the message of Christ through the most current and accessible platforms. The program airs on more than 1,800 North American stations every week and features a Canadian guest speaker at least twice a year. Find the station near you by going to www.lll.ca/lh_schedule

Lutheran Laymen’s League Canada 270 Lawrence Ave Kitchener, ON N2M 1Y4 1-800-555-6236 | info@lll.ca

www.lhmcanada.org

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THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021


TABLE TALK

Something New by Mathew Block

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19).

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or those sitting in exile, the prospect of something new was the answer to decades of prayer. They had waited to be saved for so long. Jerusalem had been razed. The Israelites were carried off as captives to the land of Babylon. And this was no short stay either; the Prophet Jeremiah tells us it would last for seventy years (Jeremiah 29:10). These things came about, we learn in Scripture, as a judgment from God. And even the Israelites saw the judgement as just, though it was bitter: “The Lord is in the right, for I have rebelled against His Word,” the Book of Lamentations says, “but hear, all you peoples, and see my suffering; my young women and my young men have gone into captivity” (1:18) The grief is palpable—and it would last for generations. But at length, God promised, He would return His people to Jerusalem. “I will visit you,” God says, “and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10). The fulfillment of this promise is the “new thing” to which God is referring in our passage above: “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Judgment will pass, He is saying; exile will end. “I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert,” God declares (43:19). “I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,

and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25). These are words of transformation; God is taking one thing and forming it into another. He takes the baren desert and fills it with water. He takes an unpassable wasteland and makes a road. He takes a people justly punished for sin and restores them in mercy. This is the way of our God. He takes that which is broken and makes it new. He takes that which is small and makes it great. He is a God of new things, a God of miracles. He speaks into the void, and the world begins. He takes dust in hand, and man is created. He enters a tomb, and eternal life is won. Nor are such miracles a thing of the past. You see them in your own midst. The Word of Christ is spoken, and simple water becomes a flood of forgiveness. The Testament in His blood is proclaimed, and bread and wine are invested with the true presence of His body and blood. His promise of mercy is announced, and the sinful are made righteous. The Church is itself one of these “new things” which God has made. For we, like the Israelites before us, were exiles of a sort, sinners estranged from God. But through Jesus, He has made us His own. “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people,” St. Peter writes. “Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10). Though we were lowly, God makes us into something new—His own children. And we were indeed lowly: “For consider your calling, brothers,” St. Paul writes. “Not many of you were

wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are” (1 Corinthians 1:26-28). God makes something new of that which is lowly and despised. So it is that our God could take an instrument of torture, the cross, and make it a symbol of purest love. What lowlier thing could He embrace? What shame more despised could He make His own? And yet, O Christ, what wonder have You wrought for us here—peace, forgiveness, and life everlasting? Ye s , o u r G o d i s a G o d o f transformation. In this issue, we reflect on that theme in several ways. We are reminded that even evil can be changed, through God’s power, into a source of good for His people (page six). We consider how the challenges of the pandemic afford new avenues for the proclamation of the Gospel online (page nine). And we reflect on the solemnity of Lent, waiting for it to become at length the Alleluia of Easter (page 42). God grant us faith to wait in patience for the “new things” He has yet to reveal—for the transformations He will accomplish among us in this age, as well as in the age to come. “And He that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new...’” (Revelation 21:5)

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Joseph in the Pit, Obed Bucyana. (Instagram: @bibledesign).


God meant it for good O

by Murray Keith

ne of our cats, Finnegan, has a health issue that requires him to make frequent trips to the vet. This is an awful experience for him. When he sees the carrier come out, he knows it’s time for another harrowing trip to the vet’s office. His fur gets puffy, his eyes turn to saucers, and he hides under our bed. It’s very difficult to get him out. Once we do, his heart is beating almost out of his chest and he lets us know very clearly that he is not happy. To make matters worse for him, his trips to the vet often leads to him wearing a cone. We don’t like taking him to the vet and it isn’t pleasant seeing him in a cone bumping into walls. But we know it’s what’s best for him and it will eventually lead to his getting better. Finnegan cannot understand why these humans who usually show him great affection are now being so seemingly mean—but it’s for his good. It’s not my intention to trivialize the suffering we experience in this life by comparing it to a cat’s visit to the vet, but there is some similarity in the situation. Just as Finnegan cannot understand how our actions that cause him to suffer are for his good, so we are not able to understand how God’s actions that cause us to suffer can be ultimately for our good. God created everything and it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). This includes humankind, who are made in His image. The image of God in humanity consisted in the right disposition of our intellect and will, in the right knowledge of God and His goodness, and in the will to do only God’s will. It was all good, and our first parents lived in peaceful communion with God and each other, enjoying His creation. The Lord God commanded Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). Sadly, and

tragically, Adam and Eve listened to the serpent’s lie that God’s Word and all that He provided for them was not good enough. So they ate from the forbidden tree and sin and death entered into God’s very good creation. One of the consequences of the fall into sin is that we no longer have an innate right knowledge of God and His goodness. Now we wrestle with what “good” even means. The fact that philosophers have argued about this throughout the ages shows that goodness is not something that is obvious to fallen man. Only God can reveal to us what is good. We see a great example of this happening with Joseph in the book of Genesis. Joseph’s father, Jacob, loved him more than he did his other sons. Understandably, Joseph’s brothers were jealous and angry about the situation. And they became even angrier when their father made Joseph a fancy, colourful robe. Their hatred for Joseph would only intensify when he shared with them dreams he had in which his brothers bowed down before him and were under his rule. Their anger and jealousy raged to the point where they plotted to kill him and cover it up by blaming a ferocious animal. n the end, Joseph’s brothers decided it would be more beneficial for them to sell him into slavery—so Joseph ended up a slave in Egypt. To make a long story short, Joseph’s dreams about his brothers would become reality when they too came to Egypt and threw themselves down before him, seeking mercy for all the evil they had done to him. Joseph—second in authority only to Pharaoh—was in complete control now. He had the power and means to get his revenge, to make them pay for their cruelty. But instead, he forgave his brothers and provided for them. Instead of condemning them, he said these astonishing words: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

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it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20). Only God can reveal to us the good that comes from our suffering. This doesn’t mean that we will always clearly see the good behind our hardships like Joseph did. Sometimes, perhaps, we might be able to look back and recognize how through our struggles God was drawing us nearer to Him. At other times, we might feel completely lost and abandoned by God, crying out with the Psalmist: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy” (Psalm 130:1-2). No doubt some of us feel that way right now, given the challenges and sorrows that we are experiencing in the world today. St. Paul teaches us something very comforting when he writes, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). These are words of comfort, but they can be difficult to trust— especially when we are in the midst of intense pain and suffering. When tragedy strikes our lives, or the lives of those we love, it’s easy to wonder: “How could any good possibly come out of all of this?” Ultimately the answer that God provides to our suffering is the cross. That God loves us in our suffering was never expressed more clearly than when Christ Jesus endured the agony of crucifixion and died for our sin. It’s hard to wrap your mind around the truth that on Good Friday, through the most unjust and evil act ever committed, God brought about the greatest good: salvation for His people. God knows our suffering. He defeated it through His own suffering and death, His victory affirmed and attested by His triumphant resurrection three days after His dead body was laid in the tomb. We can trust God

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when He promises that He is working all things for our good. No matter what we experience in this life, whether great joy or devastating hardship, God has promised to work all things together for our good—to lead us through it all to our eternal salvation. In the midst of a pandemic, global unrest, devastating news from the doctor, heartbreak, grief—all of the troubles of this life—the God of love and mercy gives us peace and joy and certain hope for this life and for the eternal life to come. Through the Word and Absolution, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Spirit applies God’s life-saving gifts won by Christ to us personally. And He assures us that nothing in all creation can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). Stand firm and cling to Christ and His promises, knowing that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).

What God ordains is always good: He is my friend and Father; He suffers naught to do me harm Though many storms may gather. Now I may know Both joy and woe; Someday I shall see clearly That He has loved me dearly.

- Samuel Rodigast (LSB 760:4)

Rev. Murray Keith is pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.


OPPORTUNITY IN AN ONLINE AGE

BY JONATHAN KRAEMER

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n the spring of 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. As countries locked down, churches scrambled to provide the Word of God for their parishioners in order to sustain their faith in the face of the crisis. Recent technological developments allowed churches to move online quickly with as little as a cell phone and a Facebook or YouTube account. Suddenly, almost overnight, video sharing services and social media were flooded with faithful Lutheran content—from devotions to Bible studies to sermons to whole worship services. The Canadian Lutheran covered the story of that mass adoption of technology in the March/April 2020 article, “LCC Congregations Reach Out: Online Ministry During the COVID-19 Crisis.” While this may have been surprising, history shows that Christians have often made use of the most recent technology to spread and uphold the Word of God. As they have done so, they have had to grapple with the implications of that

technology. The church has had to learn how to capitalize on the benefits of new inventions, while at the same time mitigating their negative aspects.

NEW TECHNOLOGY & THE CHURCH Believe it or not, the book or “codex” (the technical term) is the first real technological innovation Christians made use of in the early years of the church. Before that, the scroll was used to record God’s Word for worship and study. Christians, though, preferred the codex. It had been around for some time, but was used more for private notebooks than for works of literature. Christians used the codex to record the Holy Scriptures for a number of reasons that might seem obvious to us. It was cost effective because it was less expensive than the scroll THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

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and could fit books of the Bible together in one package. The codex was also advantageous for study and cross referencing; all it took was the flip of a few pages to compare passages instead of rolling and unrolling a scroll. Not only that, but codices are compact and easily portable—something that would have been important for missionary journeys. After the codex, another significant technological advancement was the printing press with movable type. It has been given credit for the speed at which the Reformation was able to spread. Johannes Gutenberg developed it in the mid 1400s so it was a relatively new invention at the time Martin Luther’s writings were being published. More time-efficient and cost-effective than hand-copied texts, printed tracts and books accelerated the spread of ideas. Coupled with writing in the peoples’ language, the printing press enabled everyone to be informed not only of God’s Word but also the doctrinal controversies between the church in Rome and Luther. They could read works like the 95 Theses for themselves and be directly convinced by Luther of the truth he was proclaiming. The story is similar with regard to radio broadcasting. Although civilian radio programs just began to be broadcasted in the early 1920s, the Board of Control of Concordia Seminary (St. Louis, Missouri) quickly founded the radio

station KFUO, and began broadcasting December 14, 1924 with the support of the Lutheran Laymen’s League. The Lutheran Hour began “bringing Christ to the nations” during its first broadcast on October 2, 1930. It has since been carried throughout the world and remains to this day the world’s longest running Gospel radio program. When we consider the codex, the printing press, and the radio, we see that the church has regularly made use of the best technology available in order to put the Word of God into people’s hands and ears as they proclaimed it broadly.

GROWING PAINS While there are many blessings afforded by new technologies, there are also limitations and downsides. The printing press allowed Martin Luther’s teachings to spread quickly to many people, but it also allowed other not-soorthodox teachings to circulate. Readers were increasingly faced with the challenge of identifying for themselves what would be edifying for their faith and what would not—a challenge that exists to this day. Pastors had to increasingly

THAT WORD IS WORTH ALL THE EFFORT NEEDED TO BROADCAST IT BECAUSE, AS LUTHER SAYS IN THE LARGE CATECHISM, “THE WORD IS SO EFFECTIVE THAT WHENEVER IT IS SERIOUSLY CONTEMPLATED, HEARD, AND USED, IT IS BOUND NEVER TO BE WITHOUT FRUIT.”

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identify faithful writings for their flock and to combat false doctrine that was circulating in print. Radio broadcasts of the Gospel to millions of people unknown also had their limitations to work through (as did later broadcasts on television). One of the limitations was that of the anonymous listener. Some listeners were already believers, who would be strengthened in their faith through the program. Others would hear the Word for the first time and so come to believe in Christ. But new believers could not be baptized over the airwaves; they needed to be connected to a pastor and a church. The Lutheran Hour had to find a way to encourage those listeners to identify themselves so they could make the connection. In 1993, an addition to the mission statement of The Lutheran Hour was made in recognition of what they had already been doing for years. Now the mission statement read: “Bringing Christ to the nations and the nations to the church.”

SHARING THE WORD ONLINE From this historical perspective on the adoption of new technology by the church, we can better understand why we have begun working in the new medium of online worship, especially at this time of crisis. We also won’t be surprised to experience growing pains as we work through the limitations and negative aspects of this new approach. For many parishioners and congregations, the shift to offering more internet-mediated services has been a blessing. Luther’s explanations of the Third Commandment in the catechisms express it best. Online worship has enabled people to hold preaching and God’s Word as sacred and to gladly hear and learn it (to paraphrase the Small Catechism), even if they have not been able to gather in one place geographically. That Word is worth all the effort needed to broadcast it because, as Luther says in the Large Catechism, “The Word is so effective that whenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used, it is bound never to be without fruit. It always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devoutness and produces a pure heart and pure thoughts. For these words are not lazy or dead, but are creative, living words.” Whether one gathers around the Word live and in-person or broadcast over the internet, the grace that God gives through that Word is effective and powerful. As we often remind ourselves, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17). The pouring out of the Gospel over the internet has been a blessing for many kinds of listeners. In addition to blessings for regular churchgoers, it has been especially beneficial for those who are confined to their homes or in care facilities. Shift workers and those in remote locations are also being blessed with new opportunities to be fed by the Word of God. Since God creates and sustains faith through the Gospel, its proclamation to the world online creates new opportunities to reach out to others. Parishioners are able to invite friends to

FROM THIS HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE ADOPTION OF NEW TECHNOLOGY BY THE CHURCH, WE CAN BETTER UNDERSTAND WHY WE HAVE BEGUN WORKING IN THE NEW MEDIUM OF ONLINE WORSHIP, ESPECIALLY AT THIS TIME OF CRISIS.

church with the click of a mouse. Some people who may be curious about a local congregation can watch a service online, even if they might not normally walk through the doors of a church for service. Members and friends of the congregation who have not attended in a long time are able to reconnect. Of course, despite all these blessings, sharing the Word of God digitally does pose challenges as well. The benefits and the downsides are well articulated in the January/February 2020 edition of The Canadian Lutheran in the article, “Online Churches, Robot Priests.” Perhaps the greatest deficiency of sharing worship online is that one cannot physically gather together to hear God’s Word and to celebrate the sacraments. In this time, many people have been left longing to receive the Lord’s Supper, because it cannot be transmitted over the internet. Many also long to be together again with all their church family in worship. When vaccines are distributed and restrictions are over, there will be a great reunion of church families around the table of our Lord. Another challenge of online outreach is similar to that which faced radio broadcasts: the anonymous listener. Although the number of views of a live-stream or recording can be tabulated, the listener is anonymous unless they “like” a video or make a comment. It can be impossible to know how many of the attendees are congregational members and how many are visitors. This makes follow-up and pastoral care difficult. Like The Lutheran Hour, congregations will need to learn how to encourage people to identify themselves. Perhaps online greeters or the pastor can welcome those attending and encourage them to greet one another in the comment section. They can also invite listeners to get in touch with the congregation to learn more. Online attendees could be sent devotional booklets after identifying themselves. There are many creative ways to mitigate the problem of the anonymous listener, but we have to be aware of the challenge before we can address it. These and other growing pains, as well as blessings, will no doubt continue to be identified. Even beyond the pandemic, congregations will need to make decisions about how to make the best use of contemporary technology, working to mitigate the challenges that exist while identifying new opportunities to share the powerful and enduring Word of God. Rev. Jonathan Kraemer is pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church in Edmonton. THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

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Teach them to know... Or teach them to do?

by Larry Flohr

“Don’t just give them all the things you wish you’d had. Instead, teach them all the things you wish you’d known.” A picture with the above phrase caught my attention some time ago. It showed up in my Facebook newsfeed and probably had nothing to do with religious or spiritual things, but it gives us some insight into the ministry of Jesus, the invitation to His would-be disciples to “Come follow Me and I will make you fishers of men,” and His final commission to go and “make disciples of all nations,” This phrase got me thinking about how Jesus discipled the Twelve compared to how we function in the family and in the church. At church, we tend to pew-teach and classroom-teach. We teach from books and memorize quotations. At home, do we let our children watch? Do we let them help? Do we give them the opportunity to spoil a recipe or two as they hone their skills? Do we let them work with tools and experience what it feels like to look back on a job

well done? Do we let them plan and prepare a simple meal for the family? Whether at church or at home, learning and discipling don’t come just from books or from watching what other people do. It comes from following, helping, and doing. When mom was working in the kitchen while I was growing up, she’d let my sisters and me help. I’m not sure how much help we were when we ate half the cookie dough raw, or when she was peeling peaches to can and we’d sit there and eat them before they went in the jar. She probably could have done it faster without us (at least at first), but how it must have pleased her when she could pass on the recipe and let us make the fruit cake, or the sugar cookies, or even tackle a brand-new recipe using the skills she had passed on. (Separate two eggs doesn’t mean break them in different bowls!). Discipling is hard work, especially when you could have done it better and quicker by yourself. I wonder if Jesus got frustrated at the disciples when He’d give them something to do, like feed the crowd, and they shrugged their shoulders helplessly... “We don’t have enough food!” I don’t remember my dad being great with tools, but my grandfather was, and I can still remember when he took me out to the garage that he had built by himself on the farm and picked out some tools for me to keep. He even gave me a tool box, which I still have, along with a hammer that I still use, and an electric drill. Just being entrusted with those treasures gave me confidence. Over the years, the workmen that my mom and dad would hire to fix the plumbing, or the wiring, or whatever would let me watch. They would explain what they were doing, and over time they would let me help. I was thrilled to crawl on my hands and knees to run new wiring through the attic. And Mickey, our electrician, was even more thrilled that he didn’t have to subject his old knees to the task. Now, more than ever, we need to examine how we do things in the church and how we must do more than simply pass on “book knowledge.” God’s people are called to be “hands on” in ministry. It’s more than just knowing... it’s doing. Rev. Larry Flohr (Minden, Ontario) celebrated 40 years in the ministry in 2020. In his retirement, he continues to write and share daily ‘musings’ (like this one) on Facebook and by email.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS www.canadianlutheran.ca

Malagasy Lutherans elect new president MADAGASCAR - On November 5, 2020, the Malagasy Lutheran Church (FLM) elected Rev. Dr. Denis Rakotozafy to serve as its new president. The vote came during the church’s 23rd Synodical Conference, held November 4-8 in Mahajanga, which gathered under the theme: “And increase the harvest of your righteousness…” (2 Corinthians 9:10b). Dr. Rakotozafy was elected after four rounds of voting, in a 312-163 vote. He secured more than fifty percent of the vote beginning with the first ballot, but the FLM requires the president of the church to be elected by a 2/3 majority vote, leading to subsequent votes as other candidates dropped from the ballot.

Dr. Rakotozafy succeeds the late Rev. Dr. David Rakotonirina, who passed away in July 2020 after contracting COVID-19. Prior to his election, Dr. Rakotozafy was Vice President of the FLM’s Antananarivo Regional Synod, serving one term from 2012-2014 and beginning another in February 2020. He also began serving as District President of the Anosibe District in February 2020, having previously served as Vice President of the District from 20182020. He formerly served as President of the Mangalaza District from 1999-2000. ILC News

FLM President Elect Denis Rakotozafy. (Photo: FLM social media).

French Lutherans elect new president FRANCE - The Evangelical Lutheran Church – Synod of France (EELSF) has elected Rev. Dr. Gleisson R. Schmidt of Paris to a four-year term as president. The vote came during a condensed version of the church’s convention held electronically on November 15, 2020. President Schmidt succeeds Rev. Martin Jautzy, who did not stand for reelection to a second term. Born in Erechim, Brazil, President Schmidt studied theology at Concordia Institute

of São Paulo, and served congregations in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil from 2002-2018. Alongside his pastoral work, he also served as a professor of p h i l o s o p h y a t Br a z i l’s Fe d e r a l University of Technology – Paraná. In 2014, he earned his doctorate from the Federal University of Santa Catarina. He accepted a call to Paris’ St. Sauveur Evangelical Lutheran Church in 2018. ILC News

ILC to postpone World Conference until 2022

ONLINE – The Board of Directors for the International Lutheran Council

(ILC) met online on January 18, 2021 for regularly scheduled meetings. During this time, the board decided to postpone the upcoming ILC World Conference— which had been tentatively scheduled for September 2021— until 2022. The decision comes in response to current challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The board

considered the possibility of holding the conference online, but recognized disparities in internet access across the world could limit the ability of some members to participate in the conference fully. The board continues to discuss what impact the delay may mean for other planned events, including the ILC’s 2022 World Seminaries Conference. The January meeting also saw the board discuss new membership applications to the ILC, emergency relief programming, and international Lutheran theological education. ILC News

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS www.canadianlutheran.ca

Finnish Lutherans enter into fellowship with the LCMS

ELMDF Bishop Risto Soramies speaks on fellowship discussions with The LCMS during the Finnish church’s Diocesan Assembly.

FINLAND - On November 14, 2020, the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese o f Fi nlan d (EL M D F ) unanimously declared altar and pulpit fellowship with The Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod (LCMS). The decision came during the ELMDF’s annual Diocesan Assembly, which was held online as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The LCMS for its part also expressed recognition of fellowship in a letter of greeting presented to the ELMDF gathering. Bishop Risto Soramies of the ELMDF, who led the church’s dialogue with the LCMS, hailed the decision as a way of deepening connections between the two churches based on a common faith. “Now our parishioners can commune with each other, and

our pastors can preach at each other’s services,” he noted. He also looked forward to closer cooperation on theological education and in the fields of mission. “It is encouraging for us to see how the Mission Diocese is recognized as a church and our work is valued,” he continued. In a letter to the Diocesan Assembly, President Matthew Harrison of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod expressed joy at the prospect of an official declaration of fellowship. “Your hospitality, service to Christ, and commitment to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions in the face of opposition remain an example and encouragement to me and to our entire church,” President Harrison said. “It is with special joy and thanksgiving that I write on behalf of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod humbly to extend our hand of fellowship to the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland.” Fellowship discussions between the LCMS and the ELMDF first began in 2017. “Since that time, we have conducted substantial conversations about a variety of matters before coming to agreement that we believe, teach, and confess the same doctrine, as it is revealed by the Word of God and contained in

the Lutheran Confessions,” President Harrison noted. As a result of those discussions, the LCMS’ Commission on Theology and Church Relations voted unanimously to recognize fellowship with the ELMDF, leading President Harrison to declare fellowship on behalf of the LCMS in his letter. In the LCMS, the president of synod is able to recognize fellowship immediately in situations like these, with a vote to endorse the decision to follow at the next synodical convention—in this case, in July 2021. In a letter to President Harrison following the vote, Bishop Soramies expressed joy over the declaration of fellowship between the two churches. “The Missouri Synod has been a strong partner for many other confessional churches around the world,” he noted. “We are deeply thankful for this fellowship which is, and will certainly continue to be, a blessing for God’s people.” The Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod are member churches of the International Lutheran Council, as well as partner churches of Lutheran Church–Canada. ILC News

ILC calls Assistant to the General Secretary

Rev. Roger James

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WORLD - The International Lutheran Council (ILC) has announced Rev. Roger B. James will serve as its new Assistant to the General Secretary. “It’s a pleasure to be joining the International Lutheran Council,” said Rev. James. “The ILC plays a vital role supporting the mission and ministry of confessional Lutherans worldwide, and I look forward to assisting in that work.” Rev. James was installed on January 31, 2021 in a service at New Hope Lutheran Church in Ossian, Indiana (USA), with Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill, General Secretary of the ILC, preaching. Rev. James officially begin service with the ILC on February 1.

THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

“It’s with great joy that I welcome Roger to the International Lutheran Council,” said Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill, General Secretary. “He brings a wealth of international experience with him, especially in Asia, which will be of great service to the ILC. May God bless our work together on behalf of Lutherans around the world.” Rev. James and his wife Amy served as missionaries in Asia for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) from 2012-2020. While living and working in Sri Lanka, Rev. James served as the LCMS’ South Asia Area Director, regularly traveling to India and Bangladesh. Cont’d on the next page


INTERNATIONAL NEWS www.canadianlutheran.ca

Finnish Lutherans elect new bishop FINLAND - The Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland (ELMDF) has elected Diocesan Dean Juhana Pohjola to serve as its new bishop. “I wish to express my gratitude for the great confidence you have shown in me by giving me such strong support and by electing me for this important and demanding task,” said Rev. Dr. Pohjola in a speech after the election. “I feel great weakness faced with such a great task and calling but I know that the matter has been discussed in the congregations, and that many prayers and intercessions have been said for the matter, which encourages me to look forward to this.” The Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese is a partner church of Lutheran C h u r c h – C a n a d a ( LC C ) . LC C recognized altar and pulpit fellowship with the Finnish church in 2017. Both churches are also members of the International Lutheran Council. In 2020, the ELMDF’s Bishop Risto Soramies announced that he would be stepping down as bishop in 2021. A November 2020 meeting of the ELMDF’s College of Priests put forward two candidates for bishop: Rev. Esko Murto and Rev. Dr. Juhana Pohjola. Both candidates have a connection to LCC, having served in the past at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary (St. Catharines, Ontario). Dr. Pohjola was a visiting scholar at CLTS from January 2011 to June 2012 while working on his doctorate, and contributed to the seminary as a preacher and occasional teacher. Rev. Murto likewise served as a visiting professor beginning in 2015, before accepting the call to serve as an Assistant Professor of Theology at CLTS in 2017—a position he held until accepting a call back to Finland in 2019.

The ELMDF’s recent election for bishop took place remotely, and the results of the vote were announced during the church’s Diocesan Assembly on January 23, 2021. In total, Dr. Pohjola received 111 votes (90.2 percent) through advance voting, while candidate Rev. Esko Murto received 12 votes. A total of 95 percent of potential delegates voted in the election. Dr. Pohjola’s consecration as bishop is planned for August 1, 2021 at the ELMDF’s Mission Diocese Summer Festival in Loimaa. He will be the third bishop in the history of Finland’s Luther Foundation, and the second for the ELMDF itself. Dr. Pohjola’s successor, Bishop Risto Soramies, has served as Bishop since 2013. Matti Väisänen served as the first Finnish Bishop of the Mission Province of Sweden and Finland from 2010 until the emergence of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland in 2013. Dr. Pohjola has served as Diocesan Dean of the ELMDF from 2013 until the present, and as dean of its supporting trust, Luther Foundation Finland (LFF), from 2000-2001 and 2012 to the present. He previously served as head pastor of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Helsinki from 2000-2010. He holds a Master of Theology from the University of Helsinki (1997), a Master of Sacred Theology from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana (1998), and a Doctorate of Theology from the University of Helsinki (2014). Dean Pohjola was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland’s (ELCF) Diocese of Oulu in 1999 in order to serve the then newly founded Luther Foundation Finland. In 2004, the LFF broke

The past few years he has spent serving as a theological educator at the Lutheran Church in Philippines’ Lutheran Theological Seminary and Training Center in Baguio City. Prior to his work as a missionary, Rev. James

spent twenty years in pastoral ministry in Michigan and Minnesota in the United States. Rev. James holds a Master of Divinity from Concordia Seminary (St. Louis, Missouri) and a Master

ELMDF Bishop Elect Juhana Pohjola

fellowship with the ELCF over doctrinal differences. The LFF found itself shunned by the ELCF, but the unexpected publicity led to rapid growth in the LFF. Dean Pohjola was eventually defrocked by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland in 2014 after the founding of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland. The ELMDF and Dean Juhana Pohjola drew international attention in 2020 when Finnish police began investigating them for the 2004 publication of a booklet which defended historic Christian teaching on human sexuality. The booklet, which was written by a Finnish Member of Parliament, was published well before the 2017 legalization of same-sex marriage in Finland. Dean Pohjola was interrogated for five hours as part of an ongoing investigation which has sparked international concern over the state of religious freedom in Finland. Adapted from ILC News and an ELMDF news release

of Sacred Theology from Concordia Theological Seminary (Fort Wayne, Indiana). The ILC’s Board of Directors issued a call to Rev. James in November 2020. ILC News

THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

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NATIONAL NEWS www.canadianlutheran.ca

In Memoriam: Rev. Ward Irwin Yunker

by Thomas Prachar NORTH CAROLINA - Rev. Ward Irwin Yunker was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin in 1974 and grew up in Rochester, Minnesota, where he graduated from John Marshal High School. After graduating from Concordia University (St. Paul, Minnesota) with a BA in 1997, he attended Concordia Theological Seminary (Fort Wayne, Indiana) graduating in 2009 with an MDiv. He was ordained into the Holy Ministry on May 31, 2009. After making the long trek to the site of his first call in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he was installed as Associate Pastor at Peace Lutheran Church on June 28, 2009. In September, 2011 he was placed on Candidate Status. During the next few years, he continued to serve at congregations around the Red River Circuit including Grace Lutheran Church (Beausejour) and Lutheran Church of the Redeemer (Winnipeg). On September 13, 2015 he was installed as pastor at Grace (Beausejour), with his father, Rev. Arthur Yunker, serving as guest preacher. While continuing to grow from Pastor Ward’s presence in their midst, in time this small congregation could no longer support a pastor financially.Pastor Ward was also experiencing a little homesickness for

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the US. So in January 2019 he decided to move back “home,” living with his parents, Rev. Arthur and Grace Yunker, in Lake Lure, North Carolina until he received a call in the LCMS. On December 27, 2020 Pastor Ward collapsed and was taken to Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC where he was diagnosed with high blood sugar and COVID-19. He was immediately placed on a ventilator. On January 13, 2021 our gracious Lord called Pastor Ward to his heavenly home. Pastor Ward was not the perfect pastor. He recognized his sin and need for a Saviour in Jesus. With his booming voice—he did not need a microphone!—he proclaimed sin and grace, Law and Gospel, to the sheep committed to his care. Pastor Ward served God’s people with a gentleness that showed he genuinely cared for them and the issues they faced in life. His Bible studies and topical studies presented to the pastors at our Red River Circuit gatherings were wellresearched, thorough and informative. He also provided excellent minutes for those meetings. Pastor Ward also became involved with the Beausejour community as he became a cast member of “Haystack Productions” which presented plays and dinner theatre. His love for drumming made it possible for him to become a session drummer at the Royal Canadian Legion. He remained close to his Mississippi roots always

THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

searching for the perfect barbecue or best hot sauce. The members of Grace Lutheran Church (Beausejour) and Peace Lutheran Church (Winnipeg) extend their deepest sympathies to Pastor Art and Grace and their entire family. Pastor Ward was a faithful pastor touching many lives in these congregations as our Lord worked through him. The pastors and deacons of Lutheran Church– Canada, and in particular the Central Region and Red River Circuit, also extend our comfort and the hope of the resurrection not only to Pastor Ward’s family, but to his spiritual family at Augustana Lutheran Church (Hickory, North Carolina) and Pastor Gaven Mize who is their shepherd. While you are far away, you are still close to our hearts as we continue to keep you in our prayers. Our hope in our gracious Lord is certain as expressed through the apostle Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Rev. Thomas Prachar is President Emeritus of Lutheran Church– Canada’s former Central District.


NATIONAL NEWS www.canadianlutheran.ca

The Canadian Lutheran’s Most Popular Articles of 2020

ONLINE – As we transition into 2021, The Canadian Lutheran is looking back at some of the most popular articles published online over the past year. Perhap s uns urp r i si n g ly, t h e most well-read articles online were those dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. A letter from Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) President Timothy Teuscher early on in the pandemic was the most well-read article published in 2020, followed closely by a March story which introduced new resources for home devotions and recommended LCC congregations temporarily suspend public services. Subsequent stories providing guidance on offering the Lord’s Supper during COVID-19, as well as highlighting how LCC

congregations were reaching out online during the unprecedented situation, were also highly viewed. The most popular non-COVID feature from 2020 was Dr. Leah Koetting Block’s “Misguided Mercy,” which discussed current Canadian legislation on end of life issues from a Lutheran perspective. Additional news stories on the evolving legal situation of physician assisted suicide and euthanasia—for example, on LCC joining other faith groups in opposing Bill C-7—also received strong readership throughout 2020. This past year also saw renewed attention to the issue of racism in Western society. Accordingly, a statement from Lutheran Church– Canada on racism was well-read, as was a related feature by Rev. Dr. John

Arthur Nunes entitled “Who is My Neighbour?” Another popular article in 2020 included Mathew Block’s Reformation-focused feature, “The Enduring Word: Lutherans and Bible Translation.” A feature by Jeffrey A.L. Kriwetz highlighting an ongoing legal challenge to religious autonomy in Canada was also very popular. Finally, news stories that received wide-reading included stories on the conversion of a popular Christian rapper to Lutheranism as well as a tragic fire that devastated a Lutheran church in Valleyview, Alberta. Those wishing to leaf through past issues of The Canadian Lutheran to find these and other hidden gems can do so on issuu.com.

LWMLC plans online convention ONLINE - Lutheran Women’s Missionary League-Canada (LWMLC) will hold its upcoming national convention online from July 8-11, 2021. The theme of the convention is “Christ Lives in Me” (Galatians 2:20). The LWMLC’s National Council decided in September that, as a result of uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 convention would be held virtually. Keynote speaker for the online event will be Sandra Schaefer. Schaefer is a pastor’s wife, teacher, mother, and homeschooler. LCC President Timothy Teuscher will serve as guest preacher for the opening service.

Other speakers include Rev. Jan Pastucha (grief counselling); Dcn. Dr. Jennifer Frim (diaconal training); and Rev. Steven Harold and Samantha Neeb (youth worker). Though online this year, the convention will still see regular business conducted such as elections, as well as decisions on the distribution of Mission Grants for the next triennium. Other activities, like the Servant Events, are being retooled to be done in local settings. Fur ther information on the convention will be made available via the LWMLC’s Facebook page and website at https://lutheranwomen.ca/ events/conventions. THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

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NATIONAL NEWS www.canadianlutheran.ca

LCC Synod Convention dates set, logo released CANADA - Delegates of the 2020 Special Convention passed a resolution allowing the 2021 Synod Convention to be postponed to 2022. Lutheran Church–Canada’s Board of Directors has now set the date and location. The convention will be held June 10-13, 2022 at the Edmonton South Conference Centre (Delta and Radisson Hotels). The LCC Handbook has been revised to reflect the change to Statutory Bylaw Article IX 9.01, in light of the aforementioned resolution being passed (Resolution 20.1.01). No other changes have been made to the LCC Handbook. The revised Handbook has been sent by email to congregations, pastors, deacons, and 2020 Special Convention delegates. A printed copy is available by sending a request to admin@lutheranchurch.ca. You can also access the revised Handbook on LCC’s website under “Congregational Resources”. Planning is underway for the 2022 Convention, and further details will be announced when available. The theme of the convention is “Stand Firm in the Faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13). The convention logo was designed by Harrison Avery Prozenko, whose father, Philip Prozenko, designed the 2017 Synod Convention logo. They are both members of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church of Atlantic Canada in Halifax.

Artist Statement

by Harrison Avery Prozenko

My work has always had some connection to Christianity and Lutheranism. There is a visual need to communicate the Lutheran faith to the world. Moments like the Diet of Worms need proper representatio—a logo that is rooted in and is symbolic of the celebrated occasion. I’m inspired most by early 20th century graphic design. The blend of traditional and modern visual language creates a classic aesthetic that isn’t seen too often. Early German trademarks are bold, stark, minimal, yet very descriptive. They are instantly recognizable but don’t sacrifice their readability, as some of todays’ logos do for the sake of looking sleek and modern. Older visual styles are a breath of fresh air amidst the cacophony of overly simplistic and ultimately boring designs. Russian Constructivism is another inspiration. Its composition usually seems disconnected with its content but it has a habit of abstractly interesting the viewer whilst delivering its information. Taking cues from Constructivism’s use of colour and most basic shapes, the design for the 2021 synodical logo brings forward the iconic moment of world history in an instantly recognizable emblem. The Diet of Worms is a pivotal moment in church history. In this logo I’ve tried to bring the imagery of the moment and the legacy of the cross into modern design language. It is representative of a moment that has resounded for 500 years the steadfastness of our faith in Christ and our trust in His Word. As seen also in the logo, Martin Luther may have brought the Word back to the forefront, but it is Christ Himself and His death on the cross that brings this truth to us.

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THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

Harrison Avery Prozenko is a member of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church of Atlantic Canada in Halifax.


WEST REGION NEWS

Alberta and British Columbia - Michelle Heumann, editor

Foothills Lutheran Christian Preschool goes on hiatus CALGARY, Alta. - As a result of uncertainties due to the pandemic, Fo o t h i l l s L u t h e r a n C h r i s t i a n Preschool (FLCP) in Calgary decided to take a one-year hiatus and not reopen in September 2020. FLC Preschool first opened its doors in September 2002. Over the past eighteen years, 580 students heard of God’s great love for them, including thirty-three children from Foothills. The Word of Jesus has been shared with children from Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, atheist, and Christian families. Because of the proximity to the University of Calgary’s student family housing, children from five continents came to the preschool, including some Christian families that had come to Canada to escape religious persecution in their home country. They were grateful that their children had an opportunity to be taught a Christian worldview. Over the years, FLC Preschool welcomed children with ADD, ADHD, ASD, CP, speech delays, hearing disabilities, motor delays and disabilities, sensory issues, behavioral issues, and English language

learners alongside “typical” students, helping parents gain access to various professionals as needed. With all this diversity, the children heard and experienced that God loves everyone. They learned that God wants us to help, respect, and care about each other, and they saw what that looks like in the classroom, at home, and through agencies such as the local food bank and Operation Christmas Child. During the pandemic, Betty Ann Chandler, the preschool principal, and Amy Chandler, the teacher’s aide, made porch visits during Holy Week and again the week before Mother’s Day to deliver a craft children could make for their mom. Since Chandler, FLCP’s teacher for the last seventeen years, could not welcome children into a physical classroom, she connected via a virtual preschool experience, oneto-one with individual preschoolers on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, so she could better accommodate each child’s uniqueness. They read stories, sang songs, played games, and worked on art using fine motor skills. This was offered in May and was even more popular in June, with two new

students being added. At the end of June, there was a graduation parade since the usual end-of -year concert could not happen. In July 2020, more than half of Foothills Lutheran Church’s virtual VBS participants had a preschool connection, which is the highest percentage ever. The average has been 44% over the last few years. As always, some of FLC Preschool’s students went on to kindergarten in the fall, but others joined Mrs. Chandler online again in September. For information on participating, contact Amy Chandler at mrs.chandler. teaches@gmail.com. Betty Ann Chandler

Pastor installed in dual parish STONY PLAIN CIRCUIT - On November 15, 2020, Rev. Robert Marshall was installed at Emmaus Lutheran Church in Drayton Valley, Alberta, a dual parish with Immanuel Lutheran Church in Tomahawk, Alberta. LCC’s West Regional Pastor, Rev. Robert Mohns, performed the installation.

Children at Foothills Lutheran Christian Preschool

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WEST REGION NEWS

Alberta and British Columbia - Michelle Heumann, editor

FROM THE REGIONAL PASTOR, REV. ROBERT MOHNS

Dust

Y

ears ago, I read a remarkable manuscript in which the author imagined stories tied to a particular piece of land. I read that story, set not far from the North Saskatchewan River in the Edmonton area, on a late spring day, sitting on a sunny bench in that very geographic setting. The story began where such a tale might rightly begin: in the dust. A prairie wildfire had incinerated all the grass and brush, leaving only dust and the acrid smell of burnt vegetation. Each vignette added another layer to the stories of those who lived and died in that place. The tale concluded on a personal note, with the author standing where his own father was laid to rest in the dust of the earth. I finished the final words of the story as the last beams of sunlight hit the park bench. The lengthening shadows gathered around, turning earth tones to pale grey. I made my way home with a greater appreciation for dust. There is another, far more compelling and important dust story. You can read it in the Bible, where the author is none other than the true and living God. In Holy Writ a hundred times and more, dust’s story is retold. There are the primal days when God gathered together dust to separate the waters, setting vegetation, plants, and animals of every kind upon its surface, where they would thrive. He would go on to separate dust from dust, and form Adam. This was no generic Ken and Barbie production line; He set out to form His perfect

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You Are

Adam in detail after the likeness of His beloved Son, and breathed His Spirit into him. And so, dust and the prime of God’s creation would be connected. “Dust you are and to dust you shall return,” the Creator speaks His Word again to fleeing, fallen, dead Adam (Genesis 3:19). Martin Luther writes: “In one brief statement God thus at the same time establishes and devours the whole human race. Some are turned to dust and perish; others are born into similar sorrows. This process will continue until that longed-for day of our redemption arrives, when we shall really live.” We feel the reality of sorrow acutely in our day. The present pandemic reminds us we still live in the world of enmity into which God sent fallen Adam and Eve. It’s a world at war with God and with itself. Though Adam died on the day of his sinning, he would also live on in this world of enmity. Adam and Eve would live see one of their sons murdered at the hands of another son. “Dust you are and to dust shall you shall return.” Death still holds the human race captive. Abortion, MAID, suicide, riots, wars, and the like are visible evidence of the world of enmity in which we still live. Whatever our world’s accomplishments or progress, this epitaph remains: “Dust you are and to dust you shall return.” This is us. It is our story written from the Author of Life’s perspective, as He stands before

THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

the mounds of dirt where his beloved sons and daughters are laid to rest. Psalm 90 records Moses’ Prayer, in which he addresses God, saying, “You return man to dust and say, ‘Return, O children of man!’” (Psalm 90:3). Regarding this prayer, Luther writes: “Although this present life is fraught with sorrows, therefore, there is exceedingly abundant consolation in the thought that death comes first, and life follows.” Pay attention to Moses’ prayer and the consolation it affords: death does not equal nothingness. God, who fashioned Adam out of the dust of the earth, would Himself lay Adam back into the dust of the earth. And from this dust, God would raise again Adam to life, real life, on the day of resurrection, when the second Adam makes His appearance. Even though God cast Adam out of Paradise, He would not annihilate him, nor would He abandon him. Instead, He accompanied him with His Word. And some day later, the Word itself would took on Adam’s dust. Jesus, the Word of God, lived under Adam’s curse and died Adam’s death. His cross was planted firmly in the dust of the earth. His blood and water flowed mingled down into the dust of the earth. Jesus, the second Adam, was buried in Adam’s tomb. But on the third day, this second Adam was raised to life, His body uncorrupted, never to die again. And with His resurrection, He pulls the descendants of Adam through dust-born death to life. This too is


WEST REGION NEWS

Alberta and British Columbia - Michelle Heumann, editor

King of Kings reaches out with Advent VBS

God’s Word—a word of promise. Cast out of Paradise, the dust-man, Adam, and all his children live under a curse because of sin. But we also live in hope of God’s promised salvation. For at the same time, we live on the dust of this world, mixed with pleasure and pain, joy and sadness, hope and despair, death and life. This is our situation, and it will be so until that day of redemption makes it appearing. What a day that will be! “Dust you are and to dust you shall return.” These words, along with ashes, are often applied to the foreheads of the faithful in the Liturgy for Ash Wednesday. With it, the people of God begin their Lenten journey—a journey that pulls us through death to life through the death and life of the second Adam, Jesus Christ. This is our story, written by the author of our life. Dear children of Adam, daughters and sons of God, by virtue of Holy Baptism, a blessed Lenten journey to each and to all of you.

SPRUCE VIEW, Alta. - It was a challenge for many churches to reach out in 2020 to their communities with the gospel of Christ, as a result of COVID-19. King of Kings Lutheran in Spruce View, Alberta faced similar challenges this past summer, when hosting Vacation Bible School was not possible. As a result, the congregation decided to assemble VBS bags to deliver to thirty families in the community. The bags included five Bible lessons, themed crafts, and pre-packaged snacks. The bags were well received, so packages again went out to the community in time for the Advent season. In total, one hundred children from forty-three families received a “Countdown to Christmas” bag, which included an Advent log, candles, a daily devotional for the entirety of Advent, a children’s Bible, and some weekly sweets. The hope is for God’s word to awaken those who do not know the saving grace of Jesus and to encourage those in the faith.

The prayer for all who received the Advent packages is this: “That [God] would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19 NKJV). Elaine Kure and Lona Fawcett

LWMLC Parkland Zone’s Fall Rally ALBERTA - On September 26, 2020, the Parkland Zone of Lutheran Women’s Missionary League-Canada (LWMLC) hosted their annual Fall Rally, with 15 participants gathering on Zoom. The online format was a new experience for all but kept everyone safe during this pandemic time. Participants could click the “raise hand” icon to ask questions or wave frantically to get everyone’s attention. The opening prayer and devotion was led by Pastoral Counsellor, Rev. Mark Shultz, and a short business meeting was also held, including the discussion of options for the Spring Retreat in 2021, the upcoming LWMLC National

Convention, and the upcoming LWMLC ABC District Convention. Elections were held, and Karen Jans was reelected as Vice President and Amanda Wolf-Armstrong was reelected as President. A Bible study entitled “Celebrate Life” written by Elaine Bickel was led by Melissa Henke-Lambert. During the study, a young daughter listened in while her mom participated, which led the daughter to ask questions about what she was hearing—a great teachable moment. The benediction and Lord’s Prayer was led by Rev. Shultz to wrap up the Fall Rally. Melissa Henke-Lambert

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WEST REGION NEWS

Alberta and British Columbia - Michelle Heumann, editor

Martin Luther’s Candy Farm

Kids have a good time out on Martin Luther’s Candy Farm.

Martin and Katie Luther, as played by Rev. Wayne and Cindy Lunderby.

CHILLIWACK, B.C. - It has been difficult to find creative ideas for children’s ministry during the pandemic, so on October 30, 2020, St. Paul’s Lutheran hosted an outdoor event called “Martin Luther’s Candy Farm,” where children got to have fun collecting treats and hearing about God’s love. Graciously hosted by members Mike and Rose Rhode on their family farm, children walked through a socially distanced event with their family group in fifteen-minute intervals.

West Region Ministry Wives online retreat

At the first stop, kids collected candy at Martin and Katie Luther’s house (played by own Rev. Wayne and Cindy Lunderby). Here they learned that Martin Luther also experienced a pandemic during his lifetime. Next, kids collected candy from a variety of stops on the farm, including the doghouse, the outhouse (which has since been converted to a tool shed), and a self-serve candy willow tree. They then got to carve a pumpkin, saving the seeds to feed to the chickens. There was even a vintage car to admire (and the driver was giving out candy, of course!). In the barn, families got to hear the Bible lesson—the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Wheat and

Weeds—and also sang a song, all while distanced from the leaders. The visit was capped off with a tractor ride from Mr. Rhode, followed by a hot dog dinner and a marshmallow roast. The opportunity to bring people together in a safe outdoor environment was rejuvenating for all those who attended or volunteered. Organizers witnessed to the church families, as well as many who had no church homes. The congregation is grateful to God for providing this safe environment for the children, and they pray that they would continually learn and grow in His love during these difficult times. Amanda Gervais, Children’s Ministry Team Leader

WEST REGION - On October 2-3, 2020, thirty-one women attended the West Region Ministry Wives Online Retreat. The theme was “Abide,” and the retreat addressed anxiety in the women’s lives and in clergy homes, especially during the pandemic. K a r i n Gre g o r y, d i re c t o r o f counselling at Focus on the Family Canada, addressed the group on Saturday afternoon, focusing on the top three areas of concern that had been brought forward by the breakout room facilitators. The women studied

God’s Word together, prayed together, worshiped together, and visited together. It was a time of blessing and encouragement. Six women from the Central Region also participated in the retreat, as did Shana Sam, whose husband, Sam Thompson, will begin teaching at Concordia Lutheran Seminary in Edmonton soon. Shana’s time zone in India was 12.5 hours ahead of British Columbia! Deanna Hautz, West Region Ministry Wives Committee Chair

WEST REGION Contact Rev. Robert Mohns, Regional Pastor | rmohns@lutheranchurch.ca | 1. 855. 826. 9950 |

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THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021


CENTRAL REGION NEWS

Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and NW Ontario - Michelle Heumann, editor

Long-term church administrator retires SOUTHLAND CIRCUIT, Sask. - Recently, Roberta Freitag retired as church secretary of St. John and St. Peter Lutheran Parish, after serving for 37 years. During that time she has served alongside six pastors: Rev. Greg Heidorn, Rev. Keith Reisdorf, Rev. Neil Otke, Rev. Bill Kronen, Rev. Greg Lutz, and Rev. Jason Schultz. Roberta thanked the parish for the many years of fond memories and the special things they did for her, including providing a steady supply of M&M candies, flowers, and jokes for the church bulletins. She also thanked everyone for overlooking her typos! Roberta received thanks by congregation presidents Edgar Hammermeister and Ernie Brinkworth on October 18, 2020 for her dedication to serving her church family and her Lord. Carol Tetzlaff

Rev. Randy Heide, Rev. Ted Giese, Rev. Bradley Julien, Rev. Daryl Solie, Rev. Joshua Kurtenbach, and Regional Pastor Rev. David Haberstock

Installing Rev. Bradley Julien QU’APPELLE CIRCUIT, Sask. This fall, Emmanuel Lutheran Church (Southey) and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (Cupar) welcomed Rev. Bradley Julien back to Saskatchewan. Prior to the move, Rev. Julien and his wife Joyce had been at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Kakabeka Falls, Ontario. Making the transition to Saskatchewan in the midst of the pandemic was a challenge. They arrived in Southey on October 16, after which isolation regulations made it difficult for the pastor to reach out to his new congregation, as well as for the

congregation to meet their new pastor. Thankfully, the weather cooperated for the October 18 church service. The parsonage is across the street from Emmanuel, so after the service the congregation was able to stand on one side of the street to welcome the Juliens, who were standing on their side of the street. On Nove m b e r 1 , 2 0 2 0 , a n installation service was held at St. Paul’s in the morning and another at Emmanuel in the afternoon. At St. Paul’s, Rev. Lowell Dennis (emeritus pastor of the parish), Central Regional

Pastor Rev. David Haberstock, and Rev. Randy Heide participated in the installation. At Emmanuel, Rev. Randy Heide, Rev. Ted Giese, Rev. Daryl Solie, Rev. Joshua Kurtenbach, and Regional Pastor Rev. David Haberstock participated. Due to current regulations, the congregations were unable to have a welcome celebration with food and conversation. When these days are past, there will be a celebration of thanks Darlene Seminuk

THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

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CENTRAL REGION NEWS

Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and NW Ontario - Michelle Heumann, editor

FROM THE REGIONAL PASTOR, REV. DAVID HABERSTOCK

S

ome of you still remember the 1960s or ‘70s. Maybe you even remember the old one-year series of Bible readings (Lectionary) we used back in those days. Maybe your congregation still uses it. I mention it because about 70 days before Easter—three Sundays before Ash Wednesday—the liturgical calendar moved from the Epiphany season to Gesimatide or Pre-Lent. Gesimatide are three Sundays with Latin names: Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima. They mean approximately “70 days,” “60 days,” and “50 days till Easter” respectively. They serve as a bit of a countdown to Christ’s resurrection victory, just as the Advent wreath serves as a countdown to Christmas and Christ’s taking on our flesh. But why highlight 70 days till Easter? Why are there 40 days of Lent? Because those two numbers are important numbers in the Bible and for the Church. 70 was the number of years God decreed for the Old Testament church’s exile in Babylon (Jeremiah 25:12; Daniel 9:2; Ezra 1:1). It was a punishment on them for generations of unfaithfulness to His Word. But God, our loving Father, only punishes His children in order to guide, correct, and bless His children in the way that leads to life (Hebrews 12:7; Proverbs 13:24). So, He sent His people into exile for 70 years, where they pondered all they lost (Psalm 137), and where, for 70 years, they had no access to the Old Testament sacraments in the temple, where the

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70 vs.40 synagogues (or “gatherings”) sprouted up for fellowship around God’s Word and prayer. Many of us have gone without the Sacrament of the Altar for long stretches lately. Can you imagine going without it for 70 years? The 70 years was a meant as a time for repentance, for reflection, for renewal, for renewed determination for the Sons of Israel before the Lord restored them to the land of promise (Hebrews 11:9-10). The Church in her wisdom has given us a similar time—70 days—of repentance, reflection, and renewal to live as His people as we move to the Easter joy of our land of promise in the resurrection. The 40 days of Lent, meanwhile, recalls the judgement of 40 days and nights of rain in the Flood (Genesis 7:4), as well as the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness (Numbers 14:33-35). It is a time of judgement and renewal. For after the Flood, God brought forth a new earth and a new people according to His promise (2 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 3:20-21), just as after the wilderness wandering God raised up a new generation who, in faith, went up to conquer and take possession of the land of promise. Now during both Gesimatide and Lent, the ancient practice was to fast and repent, turning away from worldly vices and to the living God. Both made use of the colour purple in church. Both seasons removed the Alleluia and Gloria in the service (see

THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

LSB 417). The real difference is not in practice, as the practices of Lent and Gesimatide are the same, but in focus. The readings of Gesimatide call us to repent (Matthew 20:116, Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard) and turn to the Word (Luke 8:4-15, Parable of the Sower) who is our Salvation and healing (Luke 18:31-43). But Lent (in the One Year Lectionary) is an intensification of our faith and trust in the Word of God, who, in almost all the Sundays of Lent, fights our demonic foes, heals our wounds from sin, and increases our joy. After all, on the first Sunday in Lent we always hear how Christ faced down Satan in the wilderness. For 40 days He ate nothing, relying on the Word of God alone (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3), and defeated Satan, doing what Adam could not (Genesis 3). Christ has turned 40 from a time of judgment into a time of preparation for the victory to come. So the periods of 70 days and 40 days are times of renewal, refreshment, and preparation as the Lord turns us from ourselves and to Himself. May this year’s Lententide, with its focus on turning to the Lord, increase your faith just as it did for our brothers of old in Babylon and the wilderness, as you die with Christ to your sin and rise with Him daily in Baptism, celebrating our ultimate resurrection with Him in the glorious joy of Easter.


CENTRAL REGION NEWS

Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and NW Ontario - Michelle Heumann, editor

Rev. Daniel Barr marks ten years in the ministry

Sergeant Barr (left) with comrades on a training exercise in Germany in the late 1980s.

ATIKOKAN, Ont. - Rev. Dan Barr was born in Ogallala, Nebraska, on December 29, 1962, the youngest of three boys. His family immigrated to Holden, Alberta in 1967, and settled in Barrhead the following year, where he graduated from high school in 1980. He p u r s u e d p o s t - s e c o n d a r y schooling at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology before enlisting in the U.S. Army and serving in the 3 rd Infantry Division from 1986-90 in Schweinfurt, Germany. When his military service was complete, Barr settled in Grande Prairie, Alberta, working in the emerging personal computer business until 1995, then working in the lumber industry for nine years, where he earned his journeyman millwright ticket. In 2002, people began urging Barr to consider attending seminary.

His mom developed dementia the same year, and by 2004, he moved back to Barrhead. He began working on the application requirements for Concordia Lutheran Seminary (Edmonton), and extended his Master of Divinity program over five years to ensure he had time to care for his own family, his mom, and meet seminary expectations. R e v. B a r r g r a d u a t e d f r o m Concordia Lutheran Seminary in May 2010, and was ordained at and served Immanuel Lutheran, Tomahawk, from 2010-2015. He completed service at St. Luke/Zion Lutheran, Eganville, in February 2019, when Christ directed him to Faith Lutheran in Atikokan. Re v. Ba r r h a d p r o p o s e d t o Connie over the phone while he was in basing training at Ft. Benning, Georgia) in 1986; they married that summer, and have two sons and two

grandchildren. He enjoys fishing, hunting, reading, woodwork, the fine art of cooking shishka-weenies over a campfire, and brewing his notso-famous Preachers’ Ale. Submitted by a member of Faith Lutheran

Rev. Dan Barr celebrates 10 years in the ministry.

THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

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CENTRAL REGION NEWS

Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and NW Ontario - Michelle Heumann, editor

Wascana Circuit Epiphany Service

Rev. Daryl Solie gives the benediction at the close of the service.

REGINA, Sask. - On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, the congregations of the Wascana Circuit celebrated the Epiphany of our Lord with a special online service hosted by Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. Rev. Arron Gust (Grace Evangelical Lutheran) served as guest preacher, with Prince of Peace host pastor Rev. Daryl Solie serving as liturgist. Lectors included Rev. Paulo Brum (New Beginnings), Rev. Ted Giese (Mount Olive), and Rev. David Haberstock (Central Regional Pastor). Prayers were led by Rev. Lucas Albrecht (Mount Olive). Audrey Solie served as pianist/ organist, with Daryl Hoffman and Gil White assisting with video and audio recording duties. The Epiphany of Our Lord occurs on January 6 each year in the Church calendar, marking the conclusion of the Christmas season. As highlighted in the sermon during the service, it is sometimes referred to as the Second or Gentile Christmas as it marks the day the Magi were led by a star to visit the

Christ Child, bringing Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Fo r t h e l a s t s e v e r a l y e a r s congregations in the Wascana Circuit have joined together to hold special worship services to celebrate some of the often forgotten days in the church year, such as Epiphany, Holy Saturday during Holy Week, Ascension Day, and St. Michael and All Angels, as well as the Reformation.

Given the current pandemic protocols restricting attendance, the circuit hoped the online offering would provide a meaningful option to highlight and celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord. The service can be found on YouTube via a link at www. princeofpeaceregina.ca. Rev. Daryl Solie

Rev. Arron Gust preaches for the Wascana Circuit Epiphany Service.

CENTRAL REGION Contact Rev. David Haberstock, Regional Pastor | dhaberstock@lutheranchurch.ca | 1. 800. 663. 5673 |

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THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021


EAST REGION NEWS

Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada - Michelle Heumann, editor

Online Advent Celebration

KITCHENER, Ont. - Bethel Lutheran Church, unable to hold their traditional Adventsfeier (Advent program), which usually includes music, children’s presentations, readings, skits, and singing,

The Waterloo Region Ride for Refuge 2020 KITCHENER, Ont. - The Holy Cross Lutheran Riders once again participated in the annual Ride for Refuge. This year, the group was able to raise funds to support Historic St. Paul’s Community Cupboard program. This program is vital to many lowincome residents in the downtown Kitchener area, and offers easy access to free food and clothing to some of the community’s most vulnerable people. St. Paul’s receives no government

Rev. Roland and Anita Syens participate in the Ride for Refuge from B.C.

this year offered a recorded Advent program available to everyone. None of the usual program was possible face to face, but the congregation still wanted to provide some celebration given the loneliness many are experiencing as the pandemic prevents families and friends from being together. The event also allows the congregation to resist the crass commercialization of Christmas. Finally, the music makers in the congregation looked forward to offering the recording, as it had been months since they had last been able to meet together to play and sing. An online bilingual German and English Advent program was therefore recorded piece by piece, always with less than five people and always in a socially distanced way. Some recording was also done in homes and in various locations within the church building. The texts of the congregational songs scrolled funding for their community outreach programs, so this service is only possible through donations from those who have been blessed with a higher degree of financially security. The congregation looks to the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:3-4 for inspiration in this work: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” The Holy Cross Lutheran Riders’ efforts began in late June, and quickly gained momentum over the summer months. In light of the pandemic, the ride was faced with challenges that required great flexibility and creativity in order to be successful. Massive groups could not gather together on ride day to engage in the traditional bicycle rides or five kilometer walk. Instead, the group developed a new freestyling model that allowed teams to participate, either individually or in small groups, in a greatly expanded range of COVID-friendly activities. The team was comprised of thirteen members of all ages. In addition to local members of Holy Cross, two former

across the video so that people could sing along heartily if they choose to. All portions of the program were skillfully recorded and assembled by Sandi Bromberg, who taught herself the ins and outs of video recording at the beginning of the pandemic and faithfully records the congregation’s weekly online services. Bethel Lutheran Church hopes that the viewing of this program was a blessing for all, helping them to focus on Advent, a time to prepare hearts and minds for the coming of the Saviour. It was a great way for viewers to also share the program with family and friends, especially with the elderly or those who may not have access to the internet. You can also see the Advent celebration program online. Visit www. bethelkitchener.ca and click on “Video Services.” Nellie Scholtes, Director of Music at Bethel Lutheran Church

Participants in the 2020 Ride for Refugee.

members of the congregation continued to ride for the team from their new home in British Columbia. While there were a variety of options this year, participants continued to opt for the traditional hiking and biking activities. In light of the pandemic, the group’s initial expectations for the campaign were very uncertain. As time passed, it became apparent that God’s hand was guiding their work. The modest team of four quickly grew to a team of thirteen. Between individual fundraising efforts and money donated to the team, the event was able to raise more than $13,000 to assist those in need. The Holy Cross Lutheran Riders

THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

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EAST REGION NEWS

Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada - Michelle Heumann, editor

FROM THE REGIONAL PASTOR, REV. MARVIN BUBLITZ

Do we really need Lent this year?

H

ere we are in another Lenten Season, that time when, in sombre reflection, we consider our need for the Saviour. As the days hasten on from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday, the worship life of the Church is subdued. Lent is a penitential time, and while we do not go around in sackcloth and ashes, our soul takes on a posture of repentance before the bloodstained cross of the Lamb of God. The words sombre, subdued, and reflective describe well the life of the Church and the life of the Christian during Lent. That raises the question: “Do we really need Lent this year?” I mean, doesn’t sombre and subdued describe life for most in this time of COVID-19? This is especially true as many find themselves in lockdowns and restrictions. How many are separated from loved ones, friends, and coworkers? We are in a forced subduing of our life. So why do we need Lent this year? Well, for starters, sin is not in lockdown. The old Adam is not in lockdown. Satan is not staying away from us and our family or friends; just the opposite is true. That sin which has

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corrupted creation seems to have free reign these days, and Satan is using this time of crisis to attack us all the more. Sadly, our old Adam falls right in line with him. In difficult times like these, tempers are often shorter. We are quicker to look for the worst in others than to put the best construction on everything. We are more apt to confess our neighbour’s faults than our own. And we convince ourselves that all would be right in the world if only everyone would do things the way we do. In doing so, we make ourselves to be the god of our world. Satan continues the temptation he used in the garden. It is not a matter, then, of asking, “Do we really need Lent this year?” Rather, we confess: “We really do need Lent this year!” We really need Lent, for we really need to examine ourselves and kneel before Christ as poor miserable sinners. Like St. Paul, we often fail to do the good we know we should. Instead, we do the evil we abhor (Romans 7:19). We look at one another through the eyes of Satan and the old Adam. We attack and beat others down to puff

THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

ourselves up. In Lent, we are reminded of our sad state. In Lent, we are also reminded of our redeemed state. We remember and rejoice that the Father provided the Sacrifice for our sin. We travel the Lenten road to Calvary with the Babe of Bethlehem. He is the Lamb of God Who came to take away the sin of the world—including every last sin of yours and mine. He restores us once again in forgiveness. Now we can look at our brothers and sisters as Christ sees them: blood-bought, forgiven, restored, and saved for eternity. After we travel the Lenten road, kneeling at the cross with Mary and John, we rise forgiven to a new day. Christ empowers us in His resurrection to come out of the dark, sullen death grip of Lent into glorious Easter light. Many are huddled in fear these days, uncertain of what the next day or week will bring. Many feel totally helpless. Some, despair. But there is an Easter after Lent. Lent paves the way for Easter in our hearts and lives. So, yes, we really do need Lent this year. We need a Saviour. And the Father has provided His Christ, His Lamb, His Sacrifice for our salvation.


EAST REGION NEWS

Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada - Michelle Heumann, editor

EDLYA meets online for fellowship and study EAST REGION - On October 31, 2020, the East District Lutheran Young Adults group (EDLYA) hosted their first online event. No longer limited by distance, EDLYA regulars were joined by young adults across the country. The Halloween day Bible study was complete with a costume contest. The winner, Paige Demofsky, filled

her screen with a garden depicting the Garden of Eden. The young adults were eager to hear a former East District pastor, Rev. Roland Syens, lead the Bible study, “The Beatitudes: Living Right-Side-Up in an Upside-Down World,” from his home in British Columbia. Lisa Jackson, Managing Director of the Lutheran Laymen’s League of Canada (LLL

Canada) also popped in to speak to the young adults about ways in which they can become involved with LLL Canada. The first online event was well attended, with 30 attendees, and EDLYA plans to host an online Bible study soon. These events welcome any young adult ages 18-35 from across Canada. Contact edlya101@gmail.com to be added to the email chain for upcoming events.

From Nicaragua to Canada

Rev. Castillo says that his journey to ministry was not easy, and that when he left Nicaragua in 1988 due to instability in the country, he intended to settle in the United States. What followed was a harrowing journey out of Nicaragua, through Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico, before arriving in the United States as a refugee. After living for two years in the United States, his asylum application was eventually denied. An application for refugee status in Canada, however, was approved. The Canadian government settled him and his family in Ottawa, where that same week they would be visited by Rev. David Somers, who invited them to attend the Spanish service at St. Luke Lutheran Church. As his involvement with Spanishspeaking Lutheranism deepened, he would eventually be encouraged to attend seminary to become a pastor. “It had never come to my mind to be

a pastor, but the Lord had other plans for me,” notes Rev. Castillo. “The Lord brought us to this wonderful country, and He put me in the place that I am now: a pastor of Word and Sacraments.” In addition to serving as a pastor, Rev. Castillo has also been involved in LCC's mission efforts in his home country of Nicaragua. “My wife and I are grateful to the Lord for His mercy and care,” he says. “The Lord always is with us, even though we do not recognize this truth. He is with those who live by faith in His Son Jesus Christ. I thank Him for calling me as a pastor of His flock here in Canada, but also in helping through me His people in my former country of Nicaragua. To Him be the Glory forever and ever. Amen.” To read more of Rev. Castillo’s story, please visit www.canadianlutheran.ca. With notes from Rev. Oscar Castillo

LONDON, Ont. - In 2020, Rev. Oscar Castillo marked ten years in ministry. He and his family immigrated to Canada in 1991, and became members of Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) shortly after. He has been involved in Spanish language missions in Canada, as well as in Nicaragua, and is currently Assistant Pastor at Faith Lutheran Church (London, Ontario) and Grace Lutheran Church (Strathroy, Ontario).

Berea Lutheran Hats and Mats Project GODERICH, Ont. - The Berea Lutheran Hats and Mats Project has continued to work remotely during the pandemic. The group has built relationships with shelters and community health centres in Owen Sound, Sarnia, Goderich, and Kitchener. This year the group was also able to make contact with the Toronto Homeless Connect event to donate to them, too. Between September and December 2020, they contributed 2,000 items, including 85 milkbag sleeping mats, 790 knit hats, 185 pairs of knitted mittens, 90 scarves, 350 pairs of socks, 220 pieces of clothing, and the rest in toiletries. And

the on-hand supply is not yet depleted! The group continues to gather items to contribute to the local women’s shelter, a shelter in London, and to the Legion for homeless veterans once they are prepared to accept in kind donations again. The group is thankful that some members have frames and supplies at their homes to weave the sleeping mats there, and that other members are knitting, and collecting and contributing toiletries. Despite the need to work remotely, the Project is going just as strongly. After all, as the members know, the homeless situation has not gone away simply because of the pandemic.

Along with the Hats and Mats Project, the group has a number of volunteers creating items for the Feminine Hygiene Project. They are also very grateful for those ladies who are helping young girls to have a more regular attendance at school, and this project continues remotely at each person’s home too. Heather Ball, Berea Lutheran Hats and Mats Project Coordinator

THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

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EAST REGION NEWS

Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada - Michelle Heumann, editor

Resurrection Lutheran moves upward

The congregation gathers on the steps of Resurrection Lutheran Church following the final service in its original building.

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. - In 1970, Resurrection Lutheran Church in St. Catharines secured a mortgage from the East District Church Extension Fund to build an uncommon church facility nestled at the bottom of the Niagara Escarpment, featuring 1970s architecture and ascending levels toward the sanctuary. In 1976, Resurrection’s pastor, R e v. R o g e r J . Hu m a n n , w a s appointed as the developer for a Canadian Lutheran seminary as an extension of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In September of that year classes began and Resurrection Lutheran became the first home of Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminar y (CLTS), operating out of the education area of the building with office space and weekday use of the church proper. In 1984, the seminary transitioned to its newly completed building on the campus of Brock University. Over the years, the unique design of Resurrection Lutheran has proved to be an obstacle for aging members and families with infants and toddlers. Different accessibility alterations had been considered but failed to solve the

overall problems. As the congregation reached its fiftieth anniversary, many of its members had to find other places to worship. These heartbreaking farewells led to the ultimate decision to sell the building and find an accessible location for the congregation. The church building and property were sold in July 2019 with an agreement for continued use of the building while searching for a new location in the area. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the search considerably. With nothing suitable immediately available as an independent worship location, an old partnership was renewed. The Board of Regents of CLTS agreed to share space with Resurrection Lutheran Church, with the seminary playing host this time. Benefits to the congregation include no conflicting schedule for use of the sanctuary space on Sundays and evenings, as well as office space and the use of classrooms for Sunday School, Bible studies, and meetings. After the Divine Ser vice on October 25, 2020 the congregation gathered outside the original church building to open the time capsule placed behind the cornerstone fifty years ago. The capsule contained the

original Constitution and Bylaws of the congregation, an Annual Report for 1969, a Bible, Luther’s Small Catechism, currency including a one dollar bill, and a local newspaper from March 1970 with a cover story featuring Expo 70 held in Japan. On November 1, the Martin Luther chapel at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary was filled to COVID capacity as the members of Resurrection Lutheran held their first regular Divine Service in their new church home. The historic close relationship between the seminar y and the congregation has been the foundation of an ever-increasing partnership. The congregation will benefit not only from the fully accessible physical place, but also from the scholarly, confessional zeal for the faith exhibited in a seminary setting with faculty, staff, and students who have dedicated their lives in service to Christ and His Church. The seminary, on the other hand, cannot help but gain from the presence of a functioning congregation in its very midst as it continues to prepare pastors and other servants for the congregations of Lutheran Church–Canada. Rev. Kurt A. Lantz

The original building of Resurrection Lutheran in St. Catharines.

EAST REGION Contact Rev. Marvin Bublitz, Regional Pastor | mbublitz@lutheranchurch.ca | 1. 855. 893. 1466 |

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THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021


MISSION NEWS www.canadianlutheran.ca

BC Mission Boat Society

Sharing God ’s Love from a Distance

I

t is amazing to see how God continues to work in unexpected ways as we have had to think outside the box to be able to continue ministry and support to the communities we serve. So much of the ministry of BC Mission Boat Society is about relationships and being present in people’s lives in person and in their community. It has been so difficult to not be able to be there We have had to continue to adapt and respond in various ways. Throughout the summer we were able to connect with people in the communities we serve by providing a couple of “Kid’s Club in a Bag” for the children and a bag of encouragement for the adults. By the end of August, we realized we would need to adapt and pivot again for the Fall, since communities were still closed to outside visitors. Since we had such a great response from the summer, we started to brainstorm what we could do with the CLBI Impact team that was planning to come out in November 2020 and February 2021.

by Rhonda Kelman We planned to make Advent/ Christmas kits, and our small project turned into a big project once we contacted the communities. I contacted all four of the communities we serve (Ehattesaht, Kingcome, Klemtu, and Kyuquot) to see how many families we should plan for and they asked me if we would be willing to create a kit for each household. How amazing is that! We were able to get the nativity and story of Jesus’ birth into every household of all four communities we serve, as well as into Oclujce (near Ehattesaht) and some families that live off reserves as well. We had some felt Advent calendars which made a Nativity scene that were left over from a project that was sent to us by some ladies in Michigan, but not enough for every household. In September, we put out a call asking volunteers to sew backdrops for Advent Calendars, and to cut out the felt characters needed to make the Nativity scene. We had many volunteers who put in many hours of sewing and cutting so that we were able to assemble the calendars with the CLBI students.

We had pastors from across Canada write devotions that corresponded to each day of Advent and created a family devotional book. On November 7, plans changed again as we decided not to send the students through the Lower Mainland (Vancouver area) and to Vancouver Island as restrictions were increasing for the Lower Mainland. The next plan was to meet at Pines Bible Camp in Grand Forks, and that got delayed by

THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

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MISSION NEWS www.canadianlutheran.ca

a snowstorm, so we ended up meeting in Kamloops and travelling to Grand Forks the next day. That is where we spent twelve days putting the advent calendars together, and filling the bags with an advent calendar, devotional booklet, booklets from Lutheran Hour ministries, some crafts, and goodies for each household to enjoy. We also created videos to go along with each day of Advent that were posted on Facebook. I left Grand Forks in a vehicle filled with 250 Advent bags and travelled to Vancouver Island. Julie and I were able to drive up island to drop off kits for Ehattesaht, Oclujce, Kyuquot, Kingcome, Klemtu, as well as for a few families in Port Hardy and Campbell River. It was hard driving through Ehattesaht/ Oclujce just to drop off kits at the Health Center, but they were on lockdown due to positive cases of COVID-19. My hope and prayer were that these kits would bring joy at a time of fear and anxiety. We stood in the pouring rain to visit with a couple who was working at the Ehattesaht Band Office, and we were able to pray with them and encourage them in a time that was challenging. We dropped all the other kits at safe locations so that they could be brought into the other communities via the ferry or a water taxi. As we created and delivered these kits, we had to trust and pray that they would bring some encouragement, hope, and a glimpse of God’s love this Christmas season. We may never know the full impact, but throughout Advent and Christmas, we saw some of the joy that these Advent Calendar kits brought to various children, families, and Elders through social media since we could not be there in person. The impact of one mission team is usually in one of the communities we serve, but this time the impact was spread into all the communities, and even beyond into families living off the reserve! As we continue to wait for the day when it will be safe to travel again, we understand the need to pivot and adjust our ministry so that we can continue to share God’s love and

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THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

support the communities we serve. We are partnering with Hope Lutheran School in Port Coquitlam to create an Easter project for every household since their Middle School students will not be able to go on a mission trip this Spring. CLBI is going to help us start an online Sunday School program in lieu of their February mission trip. We are excited about starting a Sunday school program and we hope to get some of our previous mission teams as well as new teams involved in helping with this in the Fall. We hope that this will continue as a supplement to the ministry we do in person! It is encouraging to hear about some of the joy that was brought to people through these bags and how we could share God’s love through devotions and activities. We are eager to continue to find ways to reach out to support the communities that we serve from a distance, and to see how God can reach even more people through this ministry. We thank God for all the volunteers that helped make this possible through donations, talents, and time. In a year where we were planning to have more mission teams and to reach three more communities, we were able to pivot, adapt, and trust God in what He had in store for our ministry. Though we do not know when we will be able to travel for in person ministry again, we do know that we are still able to share God’s love. Please keep our ministry in your thoughts and prayers as we see what God has in store for 2021.

Learn more!

Rhonda Kelman, Executive Director 250.937.8595 info@bcmissionboat.org www.bcmissionboat.org


EDUCATION NEWS www.canadianlutheran.ca

Quest Course on the History of the Bible

EDMONTON - Concordia Lutheran Seminary will hold its free Spring Quest Course on “The History of the Bible: From Manuscripts to Modern Translations” online via Zoom from March 2-23, 2021. Serving as guest instructor for the course is Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Kloha, who serves as Chief Curator at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. “‘Love the Lord, your God’ and ‘Love your neighbour as yourself,’ are the most-repeated passages in the Bible,” promotional material for the course explains. “They have been memorized, copied, recited, translated, and live out for more than 3,000 years. But how was that passage—indeed the entire Bible—handed down to

us? These sessions will describe the fascinating journey of the Bible, from prophets and apostles to manuscripts and modern translations. Featured will be manuscripts and artifacts from the collections and exhibits of the Museum of the Bible.” Classes will be broadcast online at 7:00 p.m. (Mountain Time) every Tuesday from March 2 to March 23, 2021. There is no need to register for this free course. Updated links to take part will be posted on the seminary’s Facebook and page and website (www. concordiasem.ab.ca) each day there is a class. Sessions will include: March 2: Session 1: What is the Bible?

Session 2: The Hebrew Bible: The Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms March 9: Session 3: The Formation of the New Testament: The Apostles and the Gospel Message Session 4: Copying the Bible (before there was cut-and-paste)) March 16: Session 5: Let there be Light: Luther, Tyndale, and the King James Bible Session 6: Modern Translations: Bibles for All March 23: Session 7: Tour of the Museum of the Bible Part 1 Session 8: Tour of the Museum of the Bible Part 2

Seminaries Sunday 2021

CANADA - Resources for “Seminaries Sunday 2021” have now been released. Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) is served by two seminaries: Concordia Lutheran Seminary (CLS) in Edmonton and Concordia Lutheran Theological

Seminary (CLTS) in St. Catharines, Ontario. LCC encourages all its congregations to mark “Seminaries Sunday” one day a year, in which to remember the seminaries with prayer and offerings. LCC does not designate a specific day, leaving congregations the opportunity to choose a date that works well for them. The seminaries encourage congregations to use the propers a p p o i n t e d f o r t h e d a y, b u t congregations may also wish to incorporate the seminaries’ joint

theme for the year: “Feed My Sheep” (John 21:17). Liturgical resources and a bulletin insert for congregational use can be downloaded from the website of CLTS here concordia-seminary.ca/2020/12/29/ seminaries-sunday-2021/ or the website of CLS here: www.concordiasem.ab.ca/ home/engage. Congregations are invited to encourage offerings towards the seminaries’ operating budgets. Special envelopes, if required, may be requested by contacting the seminaries directly.

THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

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EDUCATION NEWS www.canadianlutheran.ca

CLTS releases new edition of sacred poetry ST. CATHARINES, Ont. – Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary (CLTS) has published My Light and My Salvation, a new edition of the poetry of Rev. Kurt E. Reinhardt. Rev. Reinhardt, who serves as pastor of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kurtzville, Ontario, previously released a volume of poetry with the same title in 2008, published by Redeemer Press. One of those poems—“Baptismal Waters Cover Me”—was included as Hymn 616 in Lutheran Service Book. The new edition includes all 53 poems from the first book, along with a collection of 43 new poems which span the seasons of the church year and the trials and troubles of the Christian life. Most of the new poems are provided with meter and hymn tune suggestions for singing. The book is available in print (as a hardcover or softcover) as well as an e-book from the print-ondemand service Lulu.com. The cover features an icon of the Transfiguration, which was created by Avery Prozenko, nephew of Rev. Reinhardt.

New issue of Lutheran Theological Review ONLINE - The latest issue of Lutheran Theological Review (LTR) was released in December 2020. Volume 32 of LTR begins with a short study on “Pandemics, Patience, and the Church” by Thomas J. Korcok. Articles in this issue include David W.T. Brattston on “‘Love Your Neighbour’ vs ‘Love One Another’: Similarities and Differences”; Robert Holst on “Second and Third John: Antilegomena or Pro-gegrammena? Minimal Meaning or Paradigms of Pastoral Practice?”; Werner Klän and Jobst Schöne on “Together at the Lord’s Table: A Lutheran Response”; Harold Ristau on “The Limits of Systematics for a Sacramental Theology”; and John R. Stephenson on “The Eucharist: Final Report of the Joint Roman CatholicLutheran Commission, 1978, viewed from a particular Lutheran angle a generation down the road.” Wilhelm Weber, Jr. provides a review of Der Theologe Hermann Sasse (1985-1976). The volume concludes with a sermon on John 20:19-31 by Thomas M. Winger: “Peace Be with You!” Lutheran Theological Review is jointly produced by Lutheran Church–Canada’s two seminaries: Concordia Lutheran Seminary (Edmonton) and Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary (St. Catharines, Ontario). You can access previous issues of LTR online for free at concordiaseminary.ca/ltr.

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THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021


Faithful estate planning has established

$74+ MILLION

Your Faith – Your Legacy

in outright and deferred gifts

Empowering God’s People Encouraging Generosity Establishing Legacies

5% 6%

Lutheran Foundation Canada

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WHY DO DONORS GIVE?

Faith

Family

Legacy

TO BLESS OTHERS AS THEY HAVE BEEN BLESSED

THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

35


Donor designated funds have provided over

$2.5

Encouraging Generosity Support Your Congregation Educate Your Next Pastor

MILLION

Feed Your Neighbours

in disbursements to support ministries

Advance The Mission and so much more!

D O N O R D E S I G N AT E D F U N D S Lutheran Foundation Canada manages over 75 different donor designated funds which annually provide support for congregations and ministries across the LCC synodical family. Find out how you can contribute to an existing fund or establish your own fund.

OVER 75 FUNDS

OVER $8 MILLION INVESTED

Whether it’s supporting your home congregation, helping our seminaries develop faithful pastors, supporting evangelical outreach in Canada and around the world, translating bibles into different languages, or so many other worthy causes, our churches are full of generous givers. With the help of Lutheran Foundation Canada, you can create a lasting legacy of faith and generosity through the development of a donor designated fund.

OVER $200,000 DISTRIBUTED ANNUALLY


What impact can

YOU

Funding The Mission Gift of Funds in Your Will Gift of Registered Funds

make with a charitable gift in your estate

Gift of Life Insurance Gift of Securities Lutheran Foundation Canada

www.lutheranfoundation.ca

S U P P O R T Y O U R FA M I LY A N D M I N I S T R Y Giving is a personal decision. But did you know that for most of our adult lives, we give out of only 10% of our assets. That’s perfectly logical since the other 90% are typically non-cash assets or assets being saved up over time for retirement. But what about when you no longer need those assets, nor have a surviving spouse who needs them? When you are called to glory, all your earthly possessions (the 10% and the 90%) must be transferred somewhere. Of course, the easiest transfer is to divide up what remains between your heirs. Yet this leaves nothing for the ministries you cherish. A better option might be to use a portion of your assets to create a charitable gift. This provides incredible resources for your church, while still supporting your family in ways you hadn’t even imagined.

WEBINARS

Now that’s an impact! Consider that most estates may have to pay some form of tax to the government. A charitable gift is one of the best ways to reduce or eliminate this tax. If you have an RSP/RIF when you die, and no surviving spouse, the entirety of your RSP/RIF becomes taxable. For example, a RIF with $120K will average almost $50K in taxes. As much as you might think your children will get it all, the government gets its share first. Better planning can produce better results for your family and ministry. Now is the time to consider developing a charitable gift. Speak to one of the Foundation’s gift planners to learn how you can fund the mission and provide for your family.

Lutheran Foundation Canada provides online webinars to help you create wonderful estate plans that bless your family and the ministries you love. www.lutheranfoundation.ca/webinars

Lutheran Foundation Canada 3074 Portage Avenue Winnipeg, MB R3K 0Y2 877-711-GIFT (4438) GIFT PLANNERS West Region Allen Schellenberg, Exec. Dir. cell: 604-817-7673 allen.schellenberg@ lutheranfoundation.ca Central Region David Friesen cell: 204-791-9949 dfriesen@lutheranfoundation.ca East Region James Krestick cell: 519-971-1966 jkrestick@lutheranfoundation.ca


Establishing Legacies Every Lutheran has a story to tell. How you came to know about Jesus. The influence your family had on your beliefs. What traditions have been passed down to you. How your faith has changed over time. How you have been involved with your congregation. The ups and downs of being a Christian throughout your life. As you get older, your story may take on a new form. Priorities change with age. Will the legacy you leave speak to the importance of your faith? What value do you place on your family and the ministries you have loved and supported all of your years? These are important questions.

Giving tells a

STORY

What will your story say about your

LIFE FAITH

How will you be remembered?

is most important in your life and allows you to express incredible Does it make a difference how gratitude for the blessings God you use the earthly gifts God has has showered onto you. Of course, given you? Throughout the years, taking care of family is important Lutheran Foundation Canada has too, but often by the time a gift in worked with LCC members helping your will is fulfilled, your children them establish charitable gifts for are well into adulthood and may no the Lord’s work. longer need all your assets. Setting aside a portion so others have the For many, the work of their opportunity to hear the good news of Christ, just church, both locally like you have and beyond, is “For if the willingness is something they experienced in there, the gift is acceptable your life, is an want to support. Generosity is second according to what one has, excellent ending nature to a Christian to your story! not according to what one since we understand does not have.” how generous God For over 2 Corinthians 8:12 has been to us. He a decade, stopped at nothing Lutheran in sending His Son to redeem the Foundation Canada has been world, ensuring we can be with assisting Lutheran donors in Him in glory. Understanding that identifying, establishing and the greatest inheritance we will carrying out their charitable wishes ever receive (and one we pass on towards congregations and other through teaching of the faith) is ministry organizations that support salvation through Christ, how might Lutheran Church-Canada. We can we respond differently? help you write your story. One way is by intentionally Start by asking a profound establishing a charitable gift in question, “Why have I been your will or through other means, entrusted with the resources God to provide wonderful resources has given me?”. This question goes for the Lord’s work. This final act straight to the heart of the matter: of stewardship is such an amazing what is the purpose of my wealth? story! It speaks volumes to what God has allowed you to 38 THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

and your

acquire, use, manage, and dispose of this wealth. It’s up to you to steward as He directs. Next, consider how much is enough for you and your family. Understanding that needs change over time, determining how much is enough is not so much a formula as it is a guard against excess accumulation. Finally, consider who will steward the inheritance you leave and how they might use it. Most parents and grandparents give very little thought to this matter. A typical plan simply divides an estate equally among heirs. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon says both wisdom and inheritance are good things we pass on to our children. But only one of them is guaranteed to protect the one who possesses it. With the help of Lutheran Foundation Canada, you can write a great end to your story by giving generous gifts that will be a blessing to your family and the ministries you love!


M ulan S

BY TED GIESE

lated for theatrical release in 2020, the live-action reimagining of Mulan by director Niki Caro was released instead on Disney+ in September, available to subscribers at an additional cost of $30. In December 2020, the film became free to all subscribers at no additional cost. Unlike other Disney’s live-action remakes this ne w film is afforded certain latitude as the 1998 animated Mulan is a relatively underrated film from the 1990s Disney Renaissance period. That said, the general public is increasingly picky when it comes to nostalgia, m e a n i n g i t ’s n e a r l y impossible to make a film that pleases everyone. Ubiquitous social media attention adds the hurdles of global-, gender-, and race-related politics that further complicate such productions. The new Mulan was not immune to these pressures. Personal comments by the lead actress Yifei Liu about the 2019 Hong Kong protests; the removal/alteration of characters like Mulan’s love interest, Shang, who had become a kind of bisexual icon among a subset of LGBTQ viewers; and controversies around shooting locations which required approval from local Chinese government officials involved in running detention camps

IN REVIEW: MULAN for Uighur Muslims all impacted the public perception of the film in advance of its release. How does 2020’s Mulan compare to the 1998 version? Most obviously the comedic moments and musical numbers have been removed from the new version of the film. The decision, for example, to reimagine Mulan’s ancestral guardian spirit—the diminutive dragon Mushu, previously voiced by Eddie Murphy in a comedic relief role—as a silent phoenix, seen largely at a distance, takes away much of the original film’s fun. The phoenix has no voice and tells no jokes.

Likewise, the decision to not include musical numbers reduces much of the charm from the final product. While the 1998 Mulan didn’t have the show-stopping musical numbers of some other Disney films, the songs did propel the story and flesh out characters

with great economy. A memorable example is the song “A Girl Worth Fighting For” which rounded out the characters of Mulan’s fellow soldiers, showing them as sensitive and caring despite their general crudeness. Songs like these helped build the credibility of the soldiers’ decision to join Mulan in battle at the end of the film, regardless of the dishonour she has committed by concealing that she is a young woman. They come to understand Mulan too is “a girl worth fighting for,” in a bit of dramatic irony. Despite being more serious in tone, the remake fails to be as clever and sophisticated as the original animated film. The reimagining of t h e a n i m a t e d Fa l c o n Hayabusa into the live action shape-shifting witch, Xianniang (Li Gong), is a creative addition to the story but muddies the water and complicates the film’s third act—resulting in a cheapening of Mulan’s character arc. On one hand, she serves as a dark mirror, warning Mulan of what she could become if she joins Xianniang and follows her in her sorcery. On the other hand, Xianniang is played as a sympathetic character enslaved by the ultimate villain of the film Böri Khan (Jason Scott Lee). She even sacrifices herself to save Mulan in the heat of battle. Some may applaud the introduction of ambiguity to the villains, but such choices sap the new film of danger and dramatic purpose. Both the old and new version of the story refrain from grim violence; the fighting is bloodless and that’s just fine since these films are made for a young audience. Mulan’s martial arts abilities are presented as a by-product of her qi (or chi—her vital spirit of life). Her family wants her to hide

THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

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these supernatural abilities because it is considered socially dishonorable for a young woman to outshine men in this regard. Christian viewers should remember that qi as presented in this film is not found within Christian beliefs. The Spirit given to Christians by God is not a parallel thing. The vital spirit of life and faith given by God as a gift provides endurance, character, and hope, even in the midst of suffering (see Romans 5:3-5). But having the Spirit certainly doesn’t grant people supernatural acrobatic abilities in the martial arts. In story-telling terms, the use of qi in the 2020 Mulan also has the downside that it makes Mulan less relatable to the general audience. Instead of a talented, clever, competent woman advancing on the merits of skill and hard work, she becomes an unstoppable magic child.

Honouring

Father & Mother Caro’s Mulan suffers for her decision to run away and joining the army. But these things also produce character. And in the end Mulan brings unexpected honour to her family. Still, the way this is presented quickly becomes a narrative pitfall, one that Christian parents may want to carefully consider. The original Chinese folksong—the Ballad of Mulan—does not present the heroine as disobedient to her parents; she goes to war in her father’s place simply because there are no suitable male children in the family. Her indifference to marriage is not presented as dishonourable but simply explains her willingness to go. By contrast, the 1998 and the 2020 films depict Mulan’s actions as something that does bring dishonour upon the family. Zhou (Tzi Ma) had encouraged his daughter to be married—a culturally acceptable way

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of gaining honour for the family, and not an unfatherly act given there was no cultural expectation for Mulan to go to war. In this new film, Mulan eventually asks her parents for forgiveness for dishonouring them—yet because of her achievements, her parents turn around and say the blame is theirs, implying the whole Chinese culture of gender roles is wrong and in need of reforms. This is a common theme in modern literature and film: the child who knows more than their parents, where instead of the child being raised according to the pre-existing culture, the culture must be changed to conform to the child. The film suggests it was Mulan’s father Zhou’s pride that resulted in her going in the first place. Had he accepted the dishonour of declining the Emperor’s call for men to fight, Mulan would not have felt compelled to go. Perhaps the best construction on this theme in the film can be found in Colossians 3:20-21: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Christian families watching the film together will want to review the commandment about honouring mother and father. If Mulan had honoured, served, and obeyed her parents from the beginning, this would be a very different film. Another point for reflection is the apparent theme that female success is rooted in being able to do what men do and do it better. Mulan sends mixed signals about the value of personal character and what it means to be a man or a woman. Mulan’s dishonesty about her identity is ultimately rewarded, with the ends justifying the means. But this utilitarian approach to life—and to identity—doesn’t uniformly lead to happiness in the real world. Christian families will benefit from reflecting together on the commandment about bearing false witness, while remembering that a Christian’s true identity is found in their baptism into Christ Jesus.

THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

Finally, both the 1998 and 2020 films provide an opportunity for Christian families to talk about Eastern ideas of ancestor worship in comparison with Christian beliefs. The animated version in particular paints Mulan’s ancestors as spirits directly involved with the daily life and honour of her family. By contrast, Lutherans teach that the faithfully departed rest in Christ awaiting the resurrection of the last day. And while Scripture encourages believers to remember their leaders and to imitate their faith (Hebrews 13:7), they are not encouraged to pray to them or seek their guidance and help in this life. Disney’s determination to retread its entire animated back catalogue with new live-action CGI films is becoming more of a “because-wecan” curiosity and less of a cinematic experience. Setting aside a couple of exceptions like 2015’s Cinderella and 2018’s melancholy but kind Christopher Robin, most of these films ring hollow—and for that reason, they will find themselves revisited far less often than the originals.

Rev. Ted Giese is lead pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Regina; a contributor to LCMS Reporter; and movie reviewer for the “Issues, Etc.” radio program. For more of his movie reviews, check out the Movie Review Index at: www.lutheran-church-regina.com


TRANSITIONS

www.lutheranchurch.ca www.canadianlutheran.ca

Rev. Timothy Graff and Rev. Dr. Samual Thompson have completed the requirements for the Pastoral Colloquy Program of Lutheran Church–Canada and are eligible to receive a call in LCC. - Rev. Tom Kruesel, Chairman LCC Colloquy Committee.

Lutheran Church–Canada

Reminder: Up-to-date Calls/Transitions information can be accessed any time at:

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PRESIDENT’S PONDERINGS

FAREWELL TO

ALLELUIA by President Timothy Teuscher

T

he omission of the “alleluia” (Hebrew for “praise the Lord”) during the season of Lent has been described as the church’s ‘fast’—a fast we observe until we hear the joyful news of Christ’s resurrection on Easter morning and that glad “alleluia” sounds forth once again from God’s people. “We part from the ‘Alleluia’ as from a beloved friend, whom we embrace many times and kiss on the mouth, head, and hand, before we leave him” is how a bishop in the Middle Ages expressed it. The 11 th century Latin hymn, Alleluia, Song of Gladness (LSB 417), which is fittingly sung at the conclusion of the service on the final Sunday of the Epiphany season, explains why we bury the “alleluia” in view of the coming penitential season of Lent. The hymn begins with the joy of the angels and the church in heaven that is sung for all eternity—a “song of gladness, voice of joy that cannot die” (verse 1). Down here on earth, however, it is a different matter for Christ’s church. While the church above always sings its “alleluia” before the throne of God, the church below does not, because “here by Babylon’s sad waters mourning exiles still are we” (verse 2). Those words, taken from Psalm 137, are the lament of the children of Israel exiled to Babylon because they had abandoned God for the false gods and evil ways of surrounding nations. How could they sing and rejoice having lost all that they had? And we, too, are exiles in this evil and sinful world, this Babylon with its false religions and abominations as depicted in the

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eighteenth chapter of Revelation. We experience its temptations and tribulations: fiery trials, insults for the name of Christ, the devil prowling around looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). So too C.S. Lewis describes the Christian life in this world: “The cross comes before the crown and tomorrow is always a Monday morning.” Not only can we not always sing our joyous “alleluia” living as we do in this sinful, sick, and dying world, “our transgressions” also “make us for a while forgo” (LSB 417:3). Instead, as the hymn continues, “the solemn time is coming when our tears for sin shall flow.” This, of course, is a reference to Lent which is traditionally a penitential time of prayer and fasting, and a time when we meditate on the sufferings of Christ. And such meditation is not simply on the sins of Judas who betrayed Him, of Peter who denied Him, of Caiaphas who schemed to have Him put to death, or of Pontius Pilate who gave the order for Him to be crucified. Rather, it is above all a meditation on my own sins which caused the very Son of God to shed His holy precious blood there on the cross. What sins? The Small Catechism answers: “Consider your place in life according to the Ten Commandments. Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker? Have you been disobedient, unfaithful, or lazy? Have you been hot-tempered, rude, or quarrelsome? Have you hurt someone by your words or deeds? Have you stolen, been negligent, wasted anything, or done any harm?” When we do these

THE CANADIAN LUTHERAN January/February 2021

things, how can we not but confess in the words from the office of Compline: “I have sinned in thought, word, and deed by my fault, by my own fault, by my own most grievous fault”? Is there hope for sinners like you and me? Will our tears for sin ever be wiped away? Will there come a day when we are no longer mourning exiles? The final stanza of the hymn answers: “Grant us, blessed Trinity, at the last to keep glad Easter with the faithful saints on high; there to you forever singing alleluia joyfully” (LSB 417:4). Those words do not simply point us past the season of Lent to Easter Day when the joyous “alleluia” sounds forth again from our lips. They also direct us to the joy of eternity, to that Easter Day on the Last Day when the risen Lord will appear not just to Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb or to the disciples in the upper room but in all His glory on the clouds of heaven—to that eternal Easter Day when we will sing and make music to the Lord with no more sadness, mourning, or tears. As we enter Lent, may our fasting from the “alleluia” remind us that in this world we are always mourning exiles, in need of penitential prayer and repentance, and of the forgiveness Christ has won for us by His bitter sufferings and death—forgiveness which He bestows upon us in His Word and the blessed Sacrament. May the farewell to the “alleluia” help us anticipate not only the joy of Easter, but also the eternal joy that Christ’s resurrection promises us when we will be “forever singing alleluia joyfully.”


CALLING ALL CONFIRMANDS! ALL CONFIRMANDS!

E

arly in 2020, Lutheran Laymen’s League of Canada decided to engage youth (and adults) going through confirmation instruction by holding a competition. Applicants were instructed to submit a story documenting their struggles and discoveries about Confirmation in the time of COVID. What we didn’t expect was the fatigue that had already set in from doing everything from schooling to socializing in the digital world. With that in mind, we decided to instead celebrate the study of our shared faith by offering any student who was confirmed or enrolled in study a copy of The Illuminated Catechism. The Illuminated Catechism is a reflection guide and colouring book designed to help you study Luther’s Small Catechism. The Illuminated Catechism gives you space to meditate on God’s Word. Bible passages, short devotionals, complementary hymns, selections from Martin Luther, and delightful illustrations invite you to reflect on God’s grace, pray, and deepen your understanding of the Christian faith. There are also blank spaces for doodling, journaling, and reflection. The feedback we have received has been positive, so much so that we have also embarked on the challenging task of translating the book into French.

Are there any recently-confirmed students or maybe some that are currently in study from your congregation that have not yet received a copy of The Illuminated Catechism? Contact us and let us know!

CONTACT US Lisa Jackson, Managing Director Lutheran Laymen’s League of Canada

270 Lawrence Ave Kitchener ON N2M 1Y4 director@lll.ca 1.800.555.6236


OUR OBJECTIVES

5

TO IDENTIFY RESOURCE PEOPLE WHO CAN WRITE AND SPEAK ON BEHALF OF THE ORGANIZATION.

2

TO STRENGTHEN THE EXISTING COMMON BOND OF CONCERN BY BRINGING LUTHERANS OF LIKE MIND INTO CONTACT WITH ONE ANOTHER.

6

TO MONITOR PUBLIC AND PRIVATE ACTION IN ORDER TO ENHANCE THE RIGHT TO LIFE.

3

TO GATHER AND SHARE PERTINENT INFORMATION WITH ITS MEMBERSHIP AND DEVELOP STRATEGIES FOR WITNESS AND RESPONSE.

7

TO RESPOND TO AND COOPERATE WITH OTHER GROUPS WHO SHARE SIMILAR CONCERNS

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TO DEVELOP AND DISTRIBUTE EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS BASED ON THE WORD OF GOD.

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TO EXAMINE AND CORRECT POPULAR BUT MISLEADING STEREOTYPES REGARDING PRO-LIFE ADVOCACY.

1

TO PROVIDE AN ORGANIZATION THROUGH WHICH LUTHERAN CHRISTIANS CAN UNITE TO SHARE DIALOGUE AND GIVE COMMON WITNESS WITH THE CHURCH AND SOCIETY TO THEIR CONCERN FOR THE VALUE AND DIGNITY OF ALL HUMAN LIFE.

Lutherans For Life - Canada We are a pro–life, pro–family life ministry whose mission is to “Witness to the Sanctity of Human Life through education based on the Word of God.”

lutheransforlife.canada@gmail.com

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