Missouri Synod Church in Downtown Memphis

Brugge’s Notes

More Precious Than Gold

My grandfather had a solid gold pocket watch, a gift from a grateful family whose son my grandfather had helped get out of Nazi Germany. That watch was the topic of a discussion that I had with my father last week. He mentioned, a bit sadly, that it was the only thing that his father had given him. That isn’t really true. You can’t really explain to anyone how much your life changes when you have children. That is, until they have children of their own. All the things that were important before, suddenly take a back seat to your new number one goal–raising a child and equipping them him with the tools necessary to succeed at life. What my grandfather gave to my father was much more. My grandfather made sure that my father was a Christian. He brought him up in the Christian faith. He taught him, not with words alone, but by daily example, how to live as a child of God. It was far more important to him that his children should inherit the kingdom of heaven, than that they inherit things of material value. Yes, he made sure that they were well educated, that they learned good manners and social skills. He wanted them to be able to make a living and be able to provide well for themselves and their families, but he knew that all of that would be meaningless if they did not learn to protect their faith, to not take it

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Hating Those Who Spread Hate

The recent news events from Charlottesville have brought so called “hate groups” to the focus. We feel compelled to speak out against those who feel driven to focus their hatred and acrimony on groups seen as different from themselves.
As Christians it is our duty to speak up for those who are oppressed and raise our voices in opposition to those who preach hatred and malice. It is natural for us to feel anger at those who spew their hurtful words and messages of hate at others who they hardly know.
It is also natural for that anger to turn into hate. Hate that is displeasing to God. [read more]

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Fear, Death, And This Christian With Cancer

We fear death. We Christians know we needn’t, but we do. It’s natural. It’s universal. But shouldn’t we actually be fearing life instead? David Brugge talks about the irony of how we as Christians have such a tough time confronting death, and perhaps how we should really be looking at it.

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Fourth Sunday in Lent – Mothering Sunday

In Europe during the 1500’s it became popular for people to return to the main church or cathedral in the community of their youth every year on the fourth Sunday in lent. These people were said to be returning to their mother church or to be going “a-mothering.” Over the years, Mothering Sunday became a day to allow children and young people that were working as domestic servants or employees to have the day off. This was so they could return home to be with their family as they returned to their home. Often, this was the only time of the year they were allowed off and for many, the only time they saw their family. Children would pick wild flowers along the way to present to their mothers or to place in the church in their mother’s honor. Over time, this became a time to honor mothers with small gifts and tokens of affection. Gradually this became more of a secular celebration than a religious one. By the twentieth century, its popularity had waned and was no longer observed in Europe other than Great Britain and Ireland. World War ll though, spurred a revival as American servicemen brought their traditions of Mother’s Day and they were merged with the traditions of British and Irish soldiers. After the war British merchants recognized the opportunities that lay in an American type Mother’s Day celebration and the day was promoted heavily. Today, the people of Ireland and the UK celebrate a secular

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Do we really need Lent anymore?

We all like to be happy. It’s our nature. We naturally avoid things that make us unhappy. I think that is one reason that the season of Lent is not especially popular. It is a time for personal reflection. A time to examine ourselves, take an inventory of our sinful lives, and be remind of how we fall short of God’s image. But do we really need that? Do we need this downer? Can we even force ourselves to be sad when Springtime is so close? After all, we’re basically good people. We may not be perfect, but nobody’s perfect and the truth is, we’re a lot better than a lot of people we know. We live good lives and try to be nice to others (mostly). So do we really need Lent? We have God’s promise of forgiveness–our sins have been washed away. So why do we still need this heavy duty guilt trip? Because without Lent, we have no Easter. Sure, we can attend Easter service and sing Easter hymns, even hunt for colored eggs and have a big dinner. But without Lent, Easter is without meaning, it’s empty. There’s nothing there but the music, the Easter Lilies, and egg hunts. Our celebration is hollow. Consider this quote from Mark Twain. “What is joy without sorrow? What is success without failure? What is a win without a loss? What is health without illness? You have to experience each if you are to appreciate the other.” Think about that

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What Kind of Tipper Are You?

Are you a good tipper? I try to be, but that has not always been the case. I had always looked on tipping as a commentary on the quality of the service as well as how well I liked the food and I suppose, a judgement on my overall “dining” experience. I was also a sharp critic, always finding room for improvement. The result was usually a somewhat miserly gratuity. If things were not done my way I gave very little. If things were exactly what I hoped for, I tipped–well slightly more generously. Then I got a job in the food service industry. The first thing that strikes everyone that first enters that line of work is how incredibly difficult it is. So many things to remember, so many things to keep track of.There were so many people to keep happy, and each with a different and sometimes conflicting need. You also have to keep the kitchen staff happy. If they have a mind to, they can make things miserable for you. Most importantly, you must always be show people that you are cheerful and eager to do all that much more to make them happy. In the end, you get your report card. A few dollars or so. Someday more, somedays less. Somedays it didn’t pay to come into work. People don’t realize that a great many of the things that irritate them while dining are completely out of the control of the server. Stiffing them doesn’t make

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The Reason for the Season – and no, it’s not good.

I lost my temper last week and said something pretty mean things. That was a sin. The penalty for that sin is death and eternal damnation. Pretty harsh, that. I mean, we condemn countries in the Middle East when they chop off the hand of a thief, so in the big scope of things, losing one’s temper and saying something hurtful is small potatoes. But the penalty remains—death and eternal damnation. The death part I don’t mind so much. I don’t like it, but it was coming sooner or later. But that eternal damnation part… I don’t know exactly what damnation is really like, but I know that it is far from good and that it is eternal. But don’t pity me. We’re all in the same boat, you and I together. Every one of us have sinned—and not just once (not that that even matters). The fact is that God is perfect. So perfect that we can’t even comprehend what perfect means. God is perfect and is surrounded by perfection. Although it sounds poetic to say that we get to heaven by being good, the ugly reality is that it’s not true. Ever since Adam, we are all born into sin—never even had a chance. Even if we had a chance it wouldn’t do us any good. Even without the born into sin thing, we simply can’t be perfect. Since Adam, every single human ever created has been sentenced to death and to eternal damnation. Harsh indeed! That is

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Happy New Year. Now, On To Christmas!

Did you miss the New Year’s celebration? You’re not alone. It passed by with scarcely a notice. I’m talking about the Church New Year—the beginning of the Advent Season. Yes it’s wonky stuff, but bear with me. Christians sometimes speak of the three comings of Christ: in the flesh at His birth, in our hearts each day, and when he returns in glory at the end of time. From the earliest of times the period of Advent was marked by fasting and penance, making one’s heart ready to receive the Lord. The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming. It may surprise you to know that for most of its history, Christmas was not considered a major holiday. It only began to grow in importance in the Middle Ages but even then it was alway seen as less significant than Easter and Pentecost. You most likely have heard how pagan mid-winter celebrations were gradually blended in with the celebration of Christmas and how many of the customs now associated with Christmas were borrowed from pagan beliefs. Then as now, it was the feasting and drinking, the exchange of gifts, and general merriment and excitement that raised the stature of Christmas. Unlike today, this period of festivity was confined to the twelve day period from Christmas Day until the Epiphany. The Advent period leading up to Christmas was always a somber period of fasting

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Has God Withheld His Blessings? This Might Possibly Be The Reason.

A recent podcast of the program Hidden Brain, interviewed Dacher Keltner, the director of UC Berkeley’s Social Interaction Lab. He spoke about some of the interesting scientific studies in how people interact with each other. When looking at how people in social settings gain power, studies find something that might seem counter intuitive. If we think about power as being able to dominate by scheming and maneuvering people into positions of disadvantage, the people who display altruism, kindness, and social intelligence, these are the people who gain power and respect from their peers. But there is a catch. Once these people become powerful, their power tends to undermine the very qualities that help them get there in the first place. Dr. Keltner says, “There is something about the seduction of power that makes you lose site of ethics and other people’s interest.” Twenty years of study on thousands of people has shown that any group of people, when first brought together, quickly evolves into ranking by social power. Often times, those who are boisterous and bullying start out grabbing attention, but over time they start to lose power and never gain the social position that they are seeking Meanwhile those who listen to others, who shows empathy and compassion, rise in the esteem and the ranking of their peers. We support those who listen to us, show us compassion and understanding, and are respectful of us and our ideas. We resist those who try to dominate us and who try

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Cheeseburgers, Cognitive Dissonance, and the Holy Spirit

All of us have experienced cognitive dissonance. That is the stress that is created when we try to hold two or more conflicting beliefs or values in our head, or when we do something or learn something that conflicts with these beliefs or values.

Cognitive dissonance theory says that we all try to keep our mind (our cognitive function) peaceful and in harmony and that when a conflict arises (dissonance) we will act to reduce the conflict, most times without our even realizing that we are doing so.

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The Corrosive Effect of Hate

One of my friends, a former classmate who grew up just down the street from me, is a Christian. I know this because she witnesses her love of Christ all of the time on social media. She is a caring person. She reposts notices of lost children and lost pets as well as encouraging others to adopt a pet from a rescue shelter. She gives emotional encouragement to others by posting memes instructing people to stand up for themselves and to not let others take advantage of them. She gives honor and respect to our soldiers in the Middle East, to firefighters, to policemen, as well as to teachers and to nurses. She posts pictures of disfigured children, asking her friends to “like” and to share, and of course, she posts photographs of dogs and cats being cute. She also posts any mean spirited or ridiculing meme about Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama as well as any negative stories that she finds despite their being shown to be false. When I sent her a private message about the mix of Christian witness with a particularly hateful story about the former first lady, she replied, “That woman is EVIL. She is nothing but LIES.” I asked her what made her single out this one politician for their lies and remain silent about the many times her favorite candidate was caught lying. She simply repeated how evil the former First Lady was. Now it would be totally wrong for me to point

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Pastor Hatcher to remain in Memphis

Last month, Pastor Josh Hatcher received a Divine Call from Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Missouri. A Divine Call is issued by a congregation after a great deal of prayer and deliberation, beseeching the Holy Spirit to guide them in finding a shepherd for their congregation. The congregation issuing the Call hopes and prays that, just as the Holy Spirit has guided them to issue a Call, that the same Spirit will guide the recipient to accept this Call as well. Things do not always work out this way. This week, Pastor Hatcher, after many days in thoughtful prayer and meditation, felt guided by the Lord to decline the Call. We give thanks to God for allowing him to stay with his congregation here in Memphis and we renew our pledge to work with him in growing the Kingdom. At the same time, our thoughts go back not too many summers ago when we were in the same situation as our sister congregation. Several times we asked the Lord’s help in selecting a pastor, only to have our Call declined as well. We raise our hearts in prayer for the Saints of Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis, that God will give them hope and courage as He, in His own mysterious way and in His own appointed time, guides them to a suitable candidate for the office they now have vacant. Dous vebiscum

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