A common theme in popular films is a character who loses his memory and must rediscover the truth about who he is. These films can be big budget action thrillers, dramas about aging, or cheesy chick flicks. But regardless of the genre, these films are compelling because they reflect the fact that losing one’s memory is one of the most disorienting things that can happen to someone.
Indeed, much of our identity and sense of selfhood flows from our memories of past events. While life is always lived in the present moment, memory provides the context and continuity that makes living in the present moment possible. Without memory, we are lost in a sea of impressions devoid of meaning. We have no frame of reference to interpret experiences. Even the most intimate relationships, relationships that have formed who we are, become strange and foreign, without the least bit of feeling associated with them.
Memory, then, is essential for life. Devoid of memory, we are helpless and have no sense of who we are. We are entirely dependent on the goodwill of others.
Memory is essential to an individual’s sense of self. But I would also argue that the memory, the experience of continuity, is likewise essential to the life of faith. Tradition is not merely a matter of repeating the same actions; it is rather the living memory of the Church. Without it, the Church loses all identity and becomes helplessly dependent on the whims of the world.
To be Lutheran in any meaningful sense, then, is to be traditional. Everything we know about what it means to be Lutheran has been handed down by our forebears, our fathers and mothers in faith. “Stand firm and hold to the traditions,” taught Saint Paul, “that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter” (2 Thess. 2:15). And so, we should. Without the reference point of tradition, we cannot say what it means to be Lutheran in any significant way.
That is not to say tradition is a static thing, any more than memory is a static thing. New experiences are constantly being added to its deposit. We learn and grow. But nonetheless, these new experiences are always interpreted and measured by what has come before.
Since her foundation by the Lord Jesus, the Church has been faced with constant new challenges, from persecutions and hostile governments to missionary expansions and engaging new cultures. The Church must respond and bring the Gospel to all nations in dynamic ways. But everything that the Church does must be assessed and interpreted in the light of tradition, and must, as much as possible, maintain the living current of continuity of the Church’s memory.
The situation we face today is likened to a man who has lost all memory of his identity and who tries to reinvent himself from scratch. Millions of Lutherans in the pews have no sense of where the Church has come from, and they are ignorant of even the most fundamental tenets of Lutheran belief or practice. They have no knowledge whatsoever of traditional devotions or customs, practices which sustained countless generations through the most difficult situations of history. If theyareaware of these things, they disdain them as the sentimental, superstitious, and unenlightened acts of a more childish and ignorant age.
Likewise, the seeming majority of the world’s pastors have no knowledge of the Church’s ancient liturgy, doctrine, or practice, much less basics like the Hebrew and Greek language that shaped the history of the Church indelibly.
This violence to tradition is not only tragic, it is catastrophic to Lutheran identity. Is it any wonder that once this rejecting of cherished beliefs and practices started, amnesia began, and millions left the faith?
For what was the faith if tradition had been destroyed? It was, it seemed to many, merely an empty body without a memory; a soulless shell of what it once was. Far from a promised new springtime, this annihilation of the Church’s memory was the greatest tragedy of recent times.
When an individual loses his memory, he is usually exposed to familiar places, people, music, and objects in the hope that this exposure will aid him in recovering his memory. This is entirely logical.
Likewise, the recovery of the Church’s memory must consist in us exposing ourselves to the ancient teachings, devotions, practices, music, art, and liturgical worship that sustained the Church for millennia. Pastors must again familiarize themselves with the ancient language and formulas and rites. Laity must immerse themselves in the fruitful culture and faith of their forebears. It is the only way to recover our collective memory.
“Honor your father and mother,” says the fourth commandment. One can either be faithful to the memory our fathers and mothers in faith, or one can dishonor and despise it and trample it in the dust. But regardless of how one considers it, tradition remains the living memory of the faith that gives context and meaning to everything we do as Lutherans. Abolish tradition or do violence to it, and the faith loses all meaning.
We live in a rootless age; a time in which, to borrow Saint Paul’s words, many are “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine.” Confusion reigns. Our memory is nearly, but not entirely, lost. In such a time, we are called to fulfill the commandment to “honor your father and mother,” to show reverence to those who have come before us and to preserve their memory—to honor the faith, so frequently purchased and sustained with the price of blood and tears, which they handed on to us. May we with God’s help do so.
Treasurer’s Report– Larry Beardsley
As Treasurer I see both sides of the financial picture- the weekly giving as well as the expenses that we incur every month. This has been a hard summer. We have met our weekly budget giving target only two weeks since the first week of May and this shortfall has taken a toll on the checking account. Thankfully for much of that time our expenses were not as high as we expected, but in July we received several surprises that have brought us back to our estimated expenses.
Remember, even if you are absent from church – our expenses continue. As our church attendance increases as we resume our Fall schedule, please consider making up giving that was missed during summer absences.
The 2020 budget has been prepared and a copy has been placed in everyone’s mailbox. I want to thank the Budget and Finance Committee for their work on this. The committee made an estimate of what we believe will be our income for 2020 and has made a first cut at the 2020 budget. There will probably be revisions made as we get additional input. We will approve the 2020 Budget at the November Voter’s Meeting. If you have any questions about the budget, please feel free to contact anyone on the Budget and Finance Committee.
Notes from President, Charles Martz:
Please be sure to let the Pastor know he is doing a fine job in his Pastor Duties. Let Lance Hoffman know he is doing a fine job with arranging the Sunday organists. Things have slowed down a while for the Mission Board.
The first draft of the 2020 budget was presented at the Voters’ Meeting in August. There were no major concerns or suggestions. However, this has not been presented to Council yet. More than likely, there will be some changes. The latest copy will be in your mailboxes. Please review this version and contact anyone on the Finance Committee with any concerns, questions or suggestions you may have no later than September 14. (The names are listed on the copy of the budget.) Your input really is important to us. I will continue to give you updated copies. The final proposal will be voted on at the November Voters’ Meeting.
We are into the second half of the year already. And like most summers, attendance and giving is down. So please remember to stay current with your weekly giving.
The building project is completed! Thanks to your pledges, we should be able to finance it without using monies from our budget or other savings’ accounts. There are probably not very many other churches that are financially able to do that. Thanks be to God and to all of your for your commitment to Zion.
Script – Becky Beardsley
Ladies Aid has decided to add more dates to the calendar for Script orders. Beginning this month, orders will be sent in every other month. So the next order will be September 22. We need a minimum order of $350. The list I give you is a very small portion of what is available. Check out www.scrip.com for much more. Think about the things you use on a regular basis and keep those on hand – especially food and gas. Kids and grandkids going back to school love the fast food and gas cards. (I speak from experience!) Please contact me if you need any help. Thanks for your support.
The Church Year – Larry Beardsley
September is upon us, school has started and we are moving into our Fall routine. As in August, September has no specific holidays, we continue in The Time of the Church, The Season after Pentecost (17th through 21st Sundays). Our Old Testament lessons will come from Psalms. Our Epistles will include the whole book of Philemon – all 21 verses and our Gospels are a range of accounts of Jesus’ teachings and interactions with people ranging from Pharisees to Lepers.
Altar paraments and vestments are green during Trinity except on specific Feast or Festival days. At Zion we have adopted the practice of using the Apostle’s Creed during the Time of the Church (“green season”).
Three Festival days fall in September: September 14th, Holy Cross Day; September 21st, St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist; September 29th, the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. On September 29th we celebrate the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. On the Feast of Michael and all Angels, popularly called Michaelmas, we give thanks for the many ways in which God’s loving care watches over us, both directly and indirectly, and we are reminded that the richness and variety of God’s creation far exceeds our knowledge of it. On that Sunday altar paraments and vestments will be white.
Are you trying to think of some special way to recognize a birthday, an anniversary or another significant day? One way to do this is to purchase and dedicate the Altar Flowers on a special Sunday. There is a Flower Calendar on the bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall where you can sign up for flowers on any Sunday. We have a great arrangement with Baker’s Flowers in Kendallville – for $30.00 per Sunday they provide us with two vases of fresh flowers for our altar and FREE DELIVERY. Sign up for a Sunday and your occasion will be noted in the bulletin for that Sunday. Just mark “Flowers” as a special offering on that Sunday to cover the flower expense.