Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

Director's Word: Maya Angelou, 1928 - 2014

This month, I'd like to simply pay tribute to a great American whose death we are even now mourning. Please enjoy the following poem, "Still I Rise", written in 1978 by the great Maya Angelou. And for those who wish, here she is reading it aloud:

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are

Director's Word: Being Light of the World

It is not that hard, after all, to know what God is doing in the world. God is loving it. And all I have to do to see what God is doing loving the world is to talk to our interns from Luther Seminary. In my columns this spring, I’m highlighting how our interns and their congregations are getting involved in what God is doing in the world. This month, I’ve talked to Emmy Kegler, Intern at Light of the World in Apple Valley MN.

Two intertwining aspects of Emmy’s internship caught

Director's Word: On Mission

On the church’s to-do list, mission is often the focus of one committee, a pull-down tab on the church website. Often, mission is understood as something some of “us” take up as a way to help “others”—those in need far away from our home and church.  This is a traditional understanding of mission, one that arose during a time when the assumption was that everyone nearby is already Christian. While it is a view of mission motivating untold acts of kindness and

Director's Word

In January's column, I wrote about how the story of Jesus’ incarnation shared in the Christmas Eve service reminded me to lift my eyes from focus on the church to notice God’s love for the world.

God so loved the world -- John's Gospel tells us -- that God became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth (1:14).

I am committed to trying to lift up ways God is at work loving the world, and to notice where our staff, students, and partner congregations are getting involved in what

Director's Word: Getting Involved in What God is Doing

Chris ScharenI had a revelation Christmas Eve. Yes, yes, I know. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. It's not that. It was during the 10:30 service, near the end, at the part where the lights go down and we all begin to light individual candles, one by one. For liturgical reasons I’ll spare you at the moment, at this juncture of the service we read a second Gospel lesson, here from the first chapter of John’s gospel. It fits here in a way, with all the talk of light shining in the darkness.

So what was my

Director's Word: O Come, O Come Emmanuel

A Family Practice

Our family is a “sit at the table together” family. As Lutheran Christians, we own the fact that we are often thought of as the branch of Christians ‘prone to excessive singing,’ as one Episcopalian friend puts it. And our family is no exception. Rarely a day goes by that we don’t join in song at breakfast and dinner, giving thanks to God for good gifts and recalling our connection and duty to those who scrap by with little or nothing. We have small

Director's Word

A short update and a book recommendation.

Thank you for the many responses to my column last month on the issue of interns and administration of the sacraments.  I have had (and continue to have) lively conversations with interns, former interns, pastors and bishops.  I've drafted a letter to our partner bishops in Regions 1 and 3 seeking their wisdom.  I'll report back with a more complete response in due time.

For now, just know the conversation is rich, about central aspects of

Director's Word

Not Quite a Pastor

A number of conversations--both with interns finishing and beginning their experience--pushed me to write down some questions about how we negotiate the tensions around interns presiding at the sacraments. I am increasingly sure we’re unhelpfully confused on this issue, and I’d like to just try out my thinking for your deliberation and response. 


First, two stories about how this came to the front burner for me. One intern, just getting started, wrote

Director's Word

I've been praying for and thinking about the many new students headed out into various ministry contexts. Of course, I'm thinking of interns, supervisors, lay committees, and congregations getting started together just now. Also, I think of Teaching Congregation students, new to Luther and to theological education, trying to find a learning context to accompany them during years of classwork. 

Many of you, dear readers, are NOT connected to a new internship. You might be tempted to skip this

Director's Word

This month I have a specific invitation to interns who will be returning to campus at Luther Seminary. Over the past few years we've developed a pattern of welcoming returning interns by listening to your stories (and inviting you to listen to each other's stories) about internship. This year we'll do this on Wednesday, September 4, from 1:30-5:00 p.m.

As we said in an email to you earlier this summer, we know the return to campus can be rough. We know you've grown in your leadership, and have lived