Feed on

For those of you who were Wired Jesus listeners and might still be watching this page after two years, a number of things have changed including a move to Orlando back in November to serve a new congregation. Needless to say, this weekend was horrifying and as the effect these murders of LGBTQ people in the name of a perverted form of Islam and the permanent change is is bringing to be church in Orlando is cause for reflection. All right here where I now live.

On one hand, events like this were a driver for Wired Jesus podcasts and its audience back in its heyday eight plus years ago. It certainly makes me want to revisit what can be done in a new setting and new stage of life. After all I still have the blog and domain name. The whole podcast feed to iTunes needs to be rebuilt after the hack from two years ago, but with a little help it can be done.

My occasional posts here still allow me to share my perspectives and other reflections that I find challenging and convicting. Tonight’s post is a letter I was asked to write on behalf of all the ELCA Lutheran pastors of the Heart of Florida Conference, or more specifically, all of us who pastor congregations in the greater Orlando area. The letter is for our national bishop, our Florida bishop, and our area congregations and is a reflection of the whole group in which I played Thomas Jefferson to their Continental Congress, but it is very much from my own heart and words as well. Its shared on my facebook page and my congregation’s facebook page but I’m having requests for the letter and some of the graphics I have produced over the last two days.

Here it is in pdf form for download – To Presiding Bishop Eaton and all our brothers and sisters in Christ in the ELCA You can also view it at my public facebook page. Feel free to share it and the graphics if so moved. And who knows, perhaps there might be a renewed future for Wired Jesus this summer.


Prayer For Orlando - Lyberg

And here’s the letter in text form:

To Presiding Bishop Eaton, Bishop Schaefer, and all our brothers and sisters in Christ in the ELCA,

On June 13, a number of pastors and counselors of the Heart of Florida Conference of the Florida Bahamas Synod gathered for Communion, conversation, and consolation of the evil that has been perpetrated in our city, Orlando, Florida. The slaughter of LGBTQ brothers and sisters by one who has enacted terror in the name of a perversion of Islam has traumatized our community as it has our nation. As servant leaders of the Church, we struggled with a response, we agonized over the temptation of inaction, and yet have heard the call of Jesus over the chatter of the media. In a moment of shared epiphany, Rev. Doctor Fred Meuser, former president of Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, summed up our dilemma. We face three different issues in tragedy: a response to our LGBTQ community that has continued to be marginalized in our congregations; a response to our local Islamic community that repudiates these murders; and our response to the most heinous act of gun violence in US history. What binds them all together and hinders our response is that each is grounded in fear and while we are bound in such fear, we cannot free ourselves to live as the body of Christ here in Orlando and beyond.

As Rev. Jeff Linman aptly summed up, we are being called to embrace our calling as congregational leaders and proclaim the Gospel shaped by our self-identification as the ELCA: God’s Work, Our Hands, and our addition – Fear Not.

God’s Work
As pastors and congregational leaders, we will engage in God’s redemptive and restorative work as revealed in the cross, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ has died for the sin of this world, which we shall name as evil and yet proclaim the forgiveness of God to both friend and stranger and even enemy. The work is not our own and it is not partisan – it is the Gospel of an active Church that proclaims that Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ will come again, revealed in our word and deed.

Our Hands
As pastors and congregational leaders, we shall move across every boundary that divides in our congregation and in our communities, no matter the struggle. We shall listen and serve the wounded and grieving in the Orlando LGBTQ community, recognizing God’s naming of them as children no different than we ourselves; that in congregational invitation, service, and life, “all” means “all” – unconditionally and fully named in all our given diversity, including gender and orientation. We shall partner with our Islamic neighbors, who in rejecting the extremists in their midst, still face threat and rejection themselves. As the descendants of Abraham, we shall stand for the gracious God who has called us to form and reform in the ways of peace. We shall work to reject the ways of violence and weapons of easy access, to seek to prevent both perpetrator and weapons of mass murder of converging again to repeat our tragedy.

Fear Not
As pastors and congregational leaders, we will not give into the fear that would further separate us and our community, a fear that is not of God. As the angel proclaimed at Jesus’ birth, “Fear not, I bring you good news of great joy which will be to all people.” (Luke 2:10) Therefore we shall not be afraid to joyously welcome the stranger of another orientation, to welcome and be welcomed among the LGBTQ community as the children of God that we all are, the beloved of Jesus. Therefore we will not be afraid to engage the stranger of another faith, to joyously welcome and be welcomed among Muslims as the children of Abraham that we all are, the beloved of God.

As Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, and fear not.” (John 14:27) Therefore in the face of violence, both of those who would commit atrocities in deed and those who would enable such deeds by legalities or production of the means, we will stand for accountability for actions, responsible limitations on the access of firearms, and the humility to proclaim the way of peace that conquers through love, not ways of the world that embrace vengeance, power, and fear.

The angel said to the women, “Fear not… go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He (Jesus) has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you (Matthew 28:5, 7) Knowing that we are not perfect, knowing that we have fallen and will fall short of our high calling in Christ, we will follow where the risen Jesus has gone ahead: reaching out now in new ways and continuing to press on to serve our Lord and our city. We invite you to come and partner with us as we seek to partner for healing in our community. Peace we have been given, so untroubled and unafraid, we shall strive to be a sign of God’s resurrection love in a dying world, to be the Body of Christ in our community, that beyond every human barrier and division we shall live and proclaim in Orlando – God’s work, our hands, fear not.

The Heart of Florida Conference, Florida Bahamas Synod, ELCA
Rev. Tom Lyberg, convener
June 13, 2016

Source: Richard Rohr’s Meditation: Incarnation instead of Atonement

A short but rather profound reflection on the meaning of the Incarnation versus atonement theologies. If I might say, the Franciscans are quite Lutheran in their theology.

A hard, honest look at why people are really walking away from church.

Source: Dear Church, Here’s Why People Are Really Leaving You

An honest and sobering appraisal of the 21st Century Church. Baby Boomer contemporary has run its course. The tight binding of tradition and doctrine of 19th Century Revivalism and decision theology survives as judgmentalism. People are hungry for mystery, relationship, and grace.

Is the church up for it today? One wonders.

What leaving and returning taught me about church.

Source: Why I Go To Church Even When I Don’t Feel Like It | RELEVANT Magazine

Discover the real purpose of church.

Source: Stop Waiting for Your Church to ‘Feed’ You | RELEVANT Magazine

Its one of the most tired excuses pastors are given but this is good reflection on how we can better address it and raise up mature Christians. But it all flies in the face of our culture of consumerism and “church shopping.”

I was listening to a sports radio show on my way to church one morning. The two DJs were doing their usual bit of asking each other trivia questions. One of the DJs asked…

Source: Ministry Matters™ | Why many welcoming churches are dying churches

Welcoming is a passive activity, the “Field of Dreams” approach of build it, they will come, welcome them when the arrive, they will stay. That is distinctly different from being missional. Good thoughts.

Several months ago, a Pew Research study sparked what almost seemed like shouts of glee from those eager to declare the impending death of Christianity in America. According to the report,

Source: Are We Finally Witnessing The Death Of Christianity In America? | Zack Hunt

Food for thought.

It wasn’t Professor Plum in the Library with the Candlestick. So what killed Twitter?

Source: Why Twitter’s Dying (And What You Can Learn From It) — Bad Words — Medium

A very insightful peaces on the loss of civility, that social media has produces a more abusive and less free society. The broader implications are that the line between what we never would do in public but try and get away with online as if anonymous is disappearing.

7 churches

“Unless these churches make some renovations, they will eventually be empty.”

Source: 7 Churches Jesus Did Not Die For

A helpful reminder that the church is not the latest fad or a generational preservation society.

“You see, when Jesus died for the church, he died for men and women who would function as his hands and feet. He died for sacrificial followers who would be driven by love, motivated by joy, equipped with a message and led by the Spirit.”


Source: 3 Reasons Contemporary Worship IS Declining, and 5 Things We Can Do to Help the Church Move On

Its interesting how the above 50 crowd still thinks “contemporary” worship is where it at to attract “young people.” Mainline congregations are aging and yet in their tradition, they have one of the things that Millennials are looking for – participatory worship grounded in the older tradition of the Church. They aren’t interested in a band show, they can go to other places to hear better bands and they want deeper relational content and context then a performance hall with a stage and light show.

The puzzlement of why contemporary worship isn’t drawing young people is that the question is now being asked by Baby Boomers who invented contemporary worship when they were young. Now they are the retiring generation and the “young” generation is fascinated by Mad Men, ancient worship, and Civil War era beards. Their music and their lifestyle is not compatible or interested in 1990s praise and worship or a prosperity Gospel. They are looking for authenticity, relationships, a connection to a meaningful past, and a Gospel to get through the difficulties of debt, strained relationships, and serve a fractured world. Good article.

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