Let’s Talk has been “living theology in the Metropolitan Chicago Synod” since 1996. At the beginning and for many years it was a mailed print publication. A few years ago we went online. It costs less and gave us greater potential circulation (the whole world!). We have usually published thematic volumes. The last was the 2017 Reformation 500 issue. Now we are opening up our content to any and all topics. We invite submission of papers and talks from members of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod of the ELCA OR talks given to members of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod. Send submissions in Word docx. to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since the liturgical year begins with Advent, so does our 2020 issue. One of the major foci of the Advent season for Hispanic Christians is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12. A Lutheran authority on Our Lady of Guadalupe is ELCA pastor Dr. Maxwell Johnson, Professor of Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame. He spoke the annual Lutheran Hispanic-Latino Encuento at St. Timothy Lutheran Church, 4208 W. Dickens, Chicago (Hermosa neighborhood) on El Dia de la Santa Cruz (Holy Cross Day), Seprember 14, 2019 sponsored by Lutheran CORE.The substance of his remarks are in this article on “Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Season of Advent.”
The season of Advent with its call for repentance and a fresh beginning is a time to reconsider our call to “Holy Living.” On the evening of All Saints’ Sunday, November 3, 2019, Lutheran pastors, deacons, and lay people from throughout the greater metropolitan Chicago area gathered at First-Santa Cruz Lutheran Church in Joliet, IL for an evening of fellowship, a dinner, a speaker, and Vespers. The event was hosted by the Society of the Holy Trinity, Northern Illinois Chapter, Pr. Keith Forni, STS, dean. The Society is a pan-Lutheran ministerium and pastoral oratory. Clergy and laity who attended were from ELCA, LCMA, LCMC, and NALC congregations. It seemed appropriate that the speaker for the evening should also represent a pan-Lutheran organization, in this case the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau. California ELCA pastor and editor of the ALPB Forum Letter Dr. Richard O. Johnson did not disappoint with his address on “Holy Living.”
As we approach a busy time of the year that is also a holy season, we need to become more present to God and to ourselves. I was invited to give a Lenten talk on spiritual discipline for pastors in the Central Conference of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod on March 17, 2017. It was suggested that I also address the need of pastors for self-care. The following remarks concern developing a discipline of personal prayer and taking care of one’s body. What I recommended to clergy applies to lay people as well. While this was given as a Lenten talk, it could also be an Advent meditation – a time of new beginnings when the we repent and turn away from the old things, the old assumptions, the old habits. So I offer this article on “Self-Care: Being Present to God and to our Bodily Selves.”
Advent is a time of endings and beginnings. Benjamin Dueholm, one of our regular columnists for the last several years (“On the Way”), has accepted a call to Christ Lutheran Church in Dallas, TX. His leave-taking sermon from Messiah Lutheran Church in Wauconda, IL is his farewell both to the congregation and to the Metropolitan Chicago Synod. We include his Farewell Sermon: Home Rejoicing in this issue.
Advent is a time to consider eternity. The Cantata Vespers at Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest, featured Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantata 20, “Eternity, You Thunder Word.” The end of the church year summons us to consider eschatology (“Where will you spend eternity?”) and the last judgment. Bach’s cantata text, with reference to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16, dwells on the threatening terrors of hell. The homilist at Vespers, Dr. Mark Bangert, raised the question of how we deal with our own anxieties. We publish here the whole package of Cantata text, notes on the cantata, and the sermon under the cantata’s title, “Eternity,” You Thunder Word.