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What’s Your Bumper Sticker?

NOTE: While Pastor Charlie is on a trip out of the country through June 5, he has chosen some of his favorite blog posts from his weblog from 2020 to 2021 to share.

From: March 9, 2021

Christ’s Sacrifice Takes Away Sin

23 Thus it was necessary for the sketches of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves need better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; 26 for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

It was our final year at seminary. A capstone class for our senior year was a class that integrated both theology and pastoral care together – a two-hour class each day. The class met for one hour, then headed to daily chapel worship, followed by a second hour of classes.

At worship one day, we were blessed to have John Ylvisaker as our musician in residence. Ylvisaker composed hundreds of songs, most notably “Borning Cry,” of which I have included a recording here.

My classmate, Kenny, was one of the worship leaders that day, and led the congregation in prayer. During the prayers, Ylvisaker played a lovely melody softly. It was quite beautiful, as I remember.

In the class session that followed, the topic was prayer. Dr. Walt Bouman, our Systematic Theology professor, was lecturing on prayer, and the importance of prayer time to be listening for the will of God to speak to us. In the middle of his lecture, he stopped, and looked at Kenny and said, “Kenny, I didn’t appreciate the prayers this morning in worship – the music was distracting.”

In response, Kenny shared with Dr. Bouman and the class that when he served an inner-city church in Detroit, it was a part of their custom and culture to include music during prayer.

As one who never liked to be considering wrong, Bouman responded rather gruffly, “Well, you can do it that way, but you will be wrong!”

Looking for some support from the class, Bouman called on another classmate and said, “Kevin, what do you think?”

Quick on his feet, Kevin said, “Well, Bouman said it. I believe it. That settles it!” A wise answer from a student who wanted to stay on the teacher’s good side.

Kevin’s response started a flurry of signs that showed up around the seminary – possible bumper stickers that we could use in addition to Kevin’s classic response. Some of them included, “Don’t like my theology? Call 1-800-WBOUMAN.” “Student of Walt Bouman on Board.” “Drugs, Sex and Walt Bouman.” “Bouman is the One.”

Dr. Bouman tolerated it, but I am sure he was counting the days till we were gone!

Today’s lesson is filled with good bumper sticker material. “Jesus – Once for All!” “Christ is coming for those who eagerly await him!” “Christ – the ultimate sacrifice”

The good news needs to be proclaimed!

Now let me say that Dr. Bouman was an incredible theologian who taught me a great deal about Lutheran faith and theology. I am forever in his debt. I would be honored to have his name on a bumper sticker of my car!

I will also say that there are different ways of worshipping and including music. We are all wired differently, and hear God speak to us in different ways. I am thankful that we offer both a traditional and contemporary worship setting – one may be your preference over another, and that is okay.

The good news is that Jesus shows up at both. The good news is proclaimed. The love of God is shared, in word and sacrament.

The method is not as important as the message (sorry, Dr. Bouman).

So, what would your bumper sticker of faith be?

Some of my thoughts.

“Grace Abounds.” “Loving Jesus by Serving Others.” “Beloved – Be Loved” “Child of the King” “Signed Sealed Delivered”

Here is a recording of “Borning Cry”

Let us pray: Thank you, God, for speaking to us in languages that we can hear. May we be tuned in to what you have to say to us, so that we might delight in your will and walk in your ways. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen

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