Entries tagged with “canadian lutheran”.


My latest for the January/February issue of The Canadian Lutheran reflects on the darkness of winter, St. Clement, the sowing of seeds, and resurrection hope.

When I first moved to Winnipeg from Regina a few years ago, I couldn’t help but notice little differences between the two communities. I learned quickly, for instance, that Winnipeg was about three times larger than Regina; it took me much longer to travel “downtown” than I had previously been used to. The natural landscape differed too, as I exchanged Wascana Lake for the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. I also learned that, during football season, blue—not green—seemed to be the color of choice here. In short, I noticed all sorts of things that distinguish the capital of Saskatchewan from the capital of Manitoba.

cl2901-cover-webBut the thing I noticed first was the darkness. During my first few weeks of work, I would leave the office to find the sun had already set. By the time I made it home, the sky would be completely dark.

It’s not hard to understand why: during the winter, Saskatchewan and Manitoba share the same time. When it’s 5:00 p.m. in one, it’s 5:00 p.m. in the other. But because Regina is so much further west, the sun doesn’t set so soon there as it does in Winnipeg. In fact, sunset comes about a half hour earlier in Winnipeg than in Regina. In December—the month in which I moved—the sun sets around 4:30 p.m. in Winnipeg. In Regina, it hangs on until 5:00 p.m. My move then was just in time for the darkest part of the year.

And dark it was. The change reminded me of the severity of winter in a new way. Yes, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are both cold. But the quicker onset of night in Winnipeg made the winter seem somehow colder.

As a result, I’ve learned to love mid-January. Every day, the darkness seems to grow a little less when I leave the office. I see the twilight glowing brighter, and I know: the old, cold world of winter is giving way to the coming spring. And though I realize that spring is still rather distant, joyful expectation begins to fill me. Something new is happening. A new world is coming.

Christians have long invoked the signs of spring as symbols for resurrection hope. The barrenness of winter symbolizes death; but as the snows melt, life re-emerges in a mini-resurrection. As the snows melt, the crocus blooms!

Read the rest at The Canadian Lutheran in my article “Death gives way to life.”


My column for the September/October issue of The Canadian Lutheran is available online. That issue of the magazine had a dual focus on international missions and remembering the Reformation. I like to think I tied together those two focuses together in a fairly coherent way in my article, reflecting on St. Paul’s teaching that our faith moves us to share the Gospel. “We believe, therefore we have spoken.” The good news of salvation through God’s grace—the Reformation truth of justification—is not something we keep to ourselves. We can’t keep it to ourselves. It bursts forth from our lips—the Good News that Christ’s death and resurrection has accomplished our salvation.

cl2805-coverLuther could not keep quiet about this discovery; the Good News that we are declared righteous through faith in the Gospel was something everyone needed to know. Like Luther, we too are motivated by the Spirit to tell others that God accepts them on the basis of Christ’s mercy, not their works. Indeed, our faith compels us to share the Gospel. St. Paul explains it well: “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ With that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in His presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:13-15).

Read the whole article online here: We believe, therefore we speak.


My column for the May/June issue of The Canadian Lutheran was entitled “Living life in ordinary time,” and is available to read online here. In this article, I discuss Ordinary Time, that season on the Church Calendar “that comes when there are no real seasons to speak of.” It’s the time between the major festivals and holidays. In my article, I draw the comparisons between Ordinary Time in the Church and Ordinary Time in daily life. A sampling below:

cl2803-cover-webThe temptation is to think Ordinary Time in the Church is somehow less important than the big events. You see that reflected in our attendance numbers. We all know members who only seem to show up for Christmas and Easter. But in the middle of July? Not so much.

But Ordinary Time is where real life happens! After all, each of us have more unbirthdays (to borrow a phrase from Alice in Wonderland) than birthdays. So what do you do in “ordinary” life when you’re not celebrating a holiday? You go to work. You study for classes. You eat supper. Maybe you read a book or watch a television program. You play with your kids. These aren’t earth-shattering events, but they’re part and parcel of daily life. Doing these things are important to keep you in good health, both physically and mentally.

The same is true for Christian faith. We have Ordinary Time things to do. We need to go to church regularly, to feed on God’s Word and receive His Holy Supper. We need to spend time studying the Scriptures, growing deeper in the faith. We need to go about our daily work, telling others about the good news of Jesus Christ. And we need fellowship with other Christians, to encourage and pray for one another.

Read it all online here.





I’ve mentioned before that I did a radio interview on visiting the Holy Land and wrote a few blog posts during the trip at The Canadian Lutheran. That material was fodder for a larger article I was working on, which appeared in the March/April issue of The Canadian Lutheran. The article is entitled “Where Jesus walked,” and reflects on the experience of visiting the Holy Land as a catalyst for understanding what it means that God became Man. [See the web version here or download the (better version) pdf here.]

Visiting the Holy Land drives home for us the mystery of the Incarnation—not just because this is where Jesus was born, but rather because this is where Jesus lived. We go to Nazareth, where He grew up. We go to Nazareth, where He grew up. We see Capernaum, the village He moved to once He began His ministry. We travel by boat on the Sea of Galilee, the place where He once walked upon the waters, where He calmed storms and granted faith to a doubting heart. We see the land in which He walked, in which He taught, in which He lived and interacted with family, friends, strangers, and enemies… This is the place God became Man—where “the Word became flesh,” as John writes, “and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14).

Note carefully that last word: us. We too are part of this story. Though we did not live when Jesus walked the hills of Galilee, we too are the people with whom He made His dwelling.

I go on to explain just how exactly we are part of Christ’s story. Along the way, I discuss the Herod the Great’s beneficence in Caesarea and maleficence in Bethlehem; the relationship between God-acting-then and God-acting-now; Zeus and the crumbled Gates of Hell; the presence of God at the Mercy Seat in the Temple; and the empty tomb.

As you can tell, the article is as more theological/devotional than news reporting. But I also wrote something for First Things recently where I discuss current events in relation to the Holy Land. Specifically, I look at the plight of Christians Israel and Palestine—a situation which is surprisingly more fragile than many Christians seem to realize.

A few months ago when I traveled to Israel with the Canadian Church Press, I visited the Western Wall only to learn the area had been the scene of violence earlier that morning. The Jerusalem Post reports that a number of Muslims gathered for afternoon prayer at the Temple Mount March 8 began throwing rocks at Israeli officers on the bridge which leads to the Western Wall plaza. The event ended with Israeli police entering the Muslim area, using stun grenades to disperse the rioters who were throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. When we arrived at the nearby Western Wall later in the day, a very large number of police officers were still on site.

That is often the way the rest of the world views disagreement in the Holy Land: as conflict between Jews and Muslims. Less often remembered are the Christians of Israel and Palestine.

I go on to discuss the difficulty Christians face in both Israel and Palestine as a result of extremist Jewish and extremist Muslim groups—which range from psychological intimidation, to arson, to physical violence. “Christian visitors to the Holy Land have little reason to fear for their own safety; their security is well-established, as I write in my conclusion, “but the situation for indigenous Christians is another matter. How to reverse anti-Christian sentiments among extremist groups in both Israel and Palestine is not clear; what is clear is that the Christians of the Holy Land need our prayers. They also need us to speak for them, to petition Israel and Palestine to ensure the safety and freedom of Christians within their borders.”


This past Sunday was the celebration for All Saints Day (actually Nov. 1), and the Sunday before that was (at least in my branch of the Christian Church) Reformation Sunday (actually Oct. 31).

Given those two days (All Saints and Reformation), it might be good to share with you my most recent column for The Canadian Lutheran: “Martin Luther: Sinner/Saint.”

Occasionally when sharing my faith with others, I will be met with the reply: “You’re a Lutheran? But don’t you know the terrible things that Martin Luther did?

More often than not, these people are referring to Luther’s treatise On the Jews and their Lies. In this work, Luther writes some dreadful things, including his “sincere advice” to Christians to go and burn down the Jews’ synagogues and schools; destroy their houses; forbid their rabbis to teach under pain of death; deprive them of wealth and property; force young Jewish men and women into hard labour; or simply drive them out of the country. In the years leading up to World War II, the Nazis would rediscover this book of Luther’s and use it in their twisted campaign to first imprison and then murder the Jewish people.

Now there are a whole host of defenses one could fall back on to try to excuse Luther for this book. One could argue that he was simply a product of his times. Antisemitism was prevalent in most of Europe during the Middle Ages, after all, and Luther was merely writing as many thinkers of his age did. Or one could point out that Luther’s book was precipitated by the publication of a Jewish tract which (apparently) aimed to convert Christians to Judaism; Luther was no doubt writing in anger rather than reasoned thought. One could even point out that Luther’s earlier writings on the Jews were generally counsels to love them, not persecute them. Yes, one could do all these things when confronted by people disgusted with Luther and what he wrote. But I suggest there is a better approach to take.

We should agree with them.

Read the rest of the article over at CanadianLutheran.ca.


As a Christian linguist*, one of the things that particularly irks me is the failure of the Church (myself included) to be vigilant in ensuring that our witness to the world is an intelligible one. In our desire to preach the Gospel, we’re not always careful to make sure the language we’re speaking is a language our non-Christian neighbours can understand. In other words, sometimes we need to speak in other words.

That concern lies behind my latest article for The Canadian Lutheran.  In addressing the problem, I explore the story of Pentecost, Luther’s theology of translation, and the historical move from German to English in North American Lutheran churches.  At the same time, I can only hope that my exploration of the subject speaks to readers where they are – that it speaks their language, as it were. (I’m sure someone in my congregation will be sure to let me know if I’ve failed on this point).

To read the article, visit The Canadian Lutheran website and select the article entitled “Can you hear me now?: Evangelism for the 21st century.” While you’re at it, check out the rest of the July-August issue. In addition to my article, there’s some insightful thoughts on engaging youth in the life of the Church now (as opposed to at some ill-defined point in the future), a story on the 2010 LCC National Youth Gathering, a discussion of C.F.W. Walther’s take on the Confessions, and other news and views of interest.


* I use the term somewhat loosely. While I’m not employed as a linguist, I do have a linguistics degree.

My article “More than Straw: The Importance of James to Contemporary Society” has recently been published in the October 2009 issue of The Canadian Lutheran. Read the article here, or the full issue here. Alternately, you can visit your friendly neighbourhood Lutheran Church – Canada congregation to pick up a copy of the magazine in print.


The Canadian Lutheran is the award-winning magazine of Lutheran Church–Canada. It is published nine times a year and features inspirational and educational articles.