Tuesday, December 3, 2013
It's that time of year: the red kettles, the incessant clanging of the bells, the nasty looks when you don't make a donation. "Doing the most good" is the Salvation Army's slogan. Undoubtedly many people have been helped by their programs. But is the quantity and/or quality of what they do really greater than other churches and organizations? The slogan is obviously a way of saying "support us, not them." "Them" being, among others, local churches. Should one church really be trying to steer the donations of other churches' members away from the individual's own congregation to the Salvation Army? Contrary to popular belief, the Salvation Army is a church, not an ecumenical ministry, not a secular service society -- it is a church. Certainly the Salvation Army is not your typical church. There is much in their praxis, especially regarding ecclesiology and liturgy, that would, or at least should, make Lutherans cringe. Recently I read that the Salvation Army no longer baptizes. Christian denominations have many different thoughts about Baptism, but Holy Baptism has always been a distinctive mark of Christianity. Without some form of Baptism, is a church really Christian? When one makes a donation to the Salvation Army one is supporting an organization that teaches against Baptism. Commentators say that the Salvation has lost its focus on evangelism and now puts on its emphasis solely on "the social gospel." Good works have edged out grace. That is how the Salvation Army has access to shopping centers, malls, etc., that would be denied to any other Christian church -- people don't see them as Christian, they see them as merely another helping group more akin to the Lions or Rotary than any congregation. A Lutheran friend of mine, when asked to drop money in the kettle, replies, "No thanks, I already have a church." That's not a bad response.
Posted by Pastor Eric at 7:36 AM
Sunday, December 1, 2013
"The worst exercise is jumping to conclusions." Today, three times, no, make it four, I jumped to a conclusion. Each time I was wrong. Mercifully, God was gracious and did not let me speak out about or act on my erroneous assumptions. Maybe I'll learn to not judge so hastily in the future (but I doubt it).
Posted by Pastor Eric at 2:39 PM
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Bedford Falls is the name of the town in It's a Wonderful Life. I live in Beaver Falls, but they are a lot alike. My wife and I went into town last night around 6:30. I had seen signs for the Beaver Falls Christmas Parade on Nov. 30, but had not noted the time. (Yeah, Nov. 30 isn't quite Advent, but y'know.) As it was, where we parked turned out to be near the tail end of the parade route and we were blocked in. Rather than have the parade march past us, we actually walked around the parade before it officially started, heard the marching bands practice, etc. Then we got Subway sandwiches, which we ate in our car, as the last of the parade went past, and we could at last drive home. It seemed that much of the parade was decorated emergency vehicles (fire trucks, ambulances, etc.) from all the neighboring communities and as far away as New Galilee. Several churches had floats in the parade. That might be an idea for Mt. Olive for next year; we could decorate the church van. Of course, that might mean a couple hours sitting in the cold. One church, that places it's emphasis on "recovery," had a float which was a jail cell on a trailer with, hopefully, church members inside and signs on the bars reading "addiction,"' "depression," and so on. Not quite what I would do with Christmas Parade float. Regardless, it was a nice slice of small town life and I hope it helped support the local businesses. [BTW, perhaps the best/worst parody if It's a Wonderful Life is the Married With Children version, featuring Sam Kinnison, erstwhile evangelist once described as being like the prodigal son before he came home.")
Posted by Pastor Eric at 10:46 AM