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Go into the World: Reconciliation

Dear Partners in Ministry,

I am looking forward to a most eventful weekend at Holy Trinity! Among other things, we will be hosting our second “Men’s Gathering” on Friday (you’ve already registered, right?). On Sunday, we’ll be welcoming a host of new members into our community of faith, including a special reception for them after the 10:30 a.m. service. We’ll be giving thanks for the capable and generous ministry of Rebecca Pape, our piano accompanist for the past five years, as she prepares to move on to new and further adventures. While we hope to welcome her back to our congregation at some point, we’ll make a point of wishing her godspeed for now! Make a point of both introducing yourself to our newcomers and to expressing your gratitude to Rebecca!

Meanwhile, we will return to our “Go into the World” series with a focus on “reconciliation,” especially as it is represented in Luke’s familiar story of the Prodigal Son. That the parable is so widely known has often led me to feel that I have to get creative with it; so I’ve preached it from every possible perspective I can imagine - the younger son’s, the older son’s, the father’s, and even the fatted calf’s (OK, so I haven’t yet done so from the pigs’ point-of-view!). I’ve even retold it with an old Garrison Keillor sketch that included a talent sound effects creator and reference to characters in Jesus’ other parables! But at the end of the day, we’ve still got a classic parable that Jesus told to make a basic point - that the work of reconciling broken relationships is inherent to what the gospel is about.

A little more than 25 years ago, a youth walking by the old log Muskego Chapel on the Luther Seminary campus in St. Paul, Minnesota, peeped in its window and noticed a beautiful chalice sitting on the altar.

He broke into the chapel and stole it. Naturally, the young boy didn’t know that this chalice had been a gift to Luther Seminary in 1936 from Norway’s King Olaf. In October 2006, the pastor of a congregation neighboring the seminary called Luther President Rick Bliese, asking for a meeting to discuss “an interesting matter.” The boy who had stolen the chalice, now a grown man, had visited his congregation. He was dying of cancer and had one request: He wanted to return the stolen chalice to the seminary. He had kept the pewter chalice in perfect condition. It had sat on his mantel for 25 years. Finally, its presence had become a source of discomfort and disease. Before the man died, he wanted it returned to its rightful owner and place, Luther Seminary and Old Muskego Chapel.

President Bliese received the gift of “the prodigal chalice” with surprise and delight. Letters were written to this dying man expressing appreciation, as well as forgiveness for his deed. The lost had been found; now the blind were gaining their sight. The man received the letters with gratitude and died soon afterward. Now this chalice has become doubly special because it was returned after serving the purpose for which it was really intended: calling sinners to repentance, forgiveness, and the difficult yet essential work of reconciliation. It’s become a powerful sign of Luther Seminary’s mission.

Where do you still experience brokenness that is unresolved? What might you do to help see that it can be? I hope and pray that you can join us for worship this Sunday at 8:30 or 10:30 a.m. and again on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. or 6:30 p.m. as we consider anew what it is possible in Christ.

Sharing the Mission,

Pastor Tim

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