Sunday, November 28, 2021

 

Advent I - C

November 28, 2021

Point of No Return


Luke 21:25-36

 

21:25 "There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves.

21:26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

21:27 Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory.

21:28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

21:29 Then he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees;

21:30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near.

21:31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

21:32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place.

21:33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

21:34 "Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly,

21:35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth.

21:36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."

Meditation

How often have the stars given us signs of the end? Even now nations are confused, and the chaos of climate change and an ongoing pandemic indicate the end is near. Christ was a no show in his generation and is a no show now.

What do we do with these words of warning? How are we to understand them in the 21st century? Are we at the point of no return?

Let us not try and twist and reshape these words. Fact is these are apocalyptic prophecy and indeed the seize of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE fulfilled some of these signs. The signs are throughout history, over and over again. Yet, we seem to be waiting for Godot.

Was Jesus wrong? Is this a 1st Century misnomer? Are we at the point of No Return?

In response to these questions, I submit the following dialog:

 

The Final Wait (An end time dialog)

 

X:  Extinguish the candle

      before it’s too late.

      Blow out the candle,

      or should we still wait?

 

Y:  Let’s wait

      because...well...because

      there have been so many years.

      Or because it just tears

      us to know the truth.

 

X: ‘What is truth?’

      Remember in his youth

      he was asked that once.

      Only to leave in silence

      on a cross...

      remnants: an empty tomb

      and refreshing supper.

 

Y:  Reasons? Why even try

      to manufacture them.

      We’re fragments

      in a flowing stream

      with no meanings

      except those made up

      for our convenience.

 

X:  Should we look to the world

      and all the change he brought?

 

Y:  No! The kingdom is not there.

 

X:  Then where? In our hearts?

 

Y:  ...any last words before I let go?

    Any final statements like:

    ‘Father, forgive them,’ you know...

    like those he spoke.

 

X:  This sounds like blasphemy,

      or just honest doubt

      unspoken by those who

      fake themselves out.

 

Y:  Extinguish the candle

      before it’s too late.

      Blow out the candle,

      or must we still wait?

 

Z:  Let’s wait...

 

Copyright @2021 by Kenn Storck

May be used with permission.

kennstorck@gmail.com

 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

 

St. Louis, MO [Circa 1960] 


A blackbird is crowing

on Arsenal Street.

He’s been there for years

and does not retreat.

 

A redbird is singing

on Botanical Street.

He’s living the good life

with plenty to eat.

 

The blackbird nests

in the fissures of those walls

where locked in nightmares

desperation walks the halls.

 

The redbird flies freely

in Tower Grove Park

nesting in vibrant trees

chased by a Lark.

 

Young people emerge

from Emmaus, St. John’s.

Messiah leads a caravan

to Arsenal Street’s lawn.

 

Serving the neighbor,

assist in stairs, push wheelchairs.

Assemble for worship

yet totally unaware.

 

Redbird flies away

and nothing is changed.

Blackbird on Arsenal Street

in the stillness remains.

 

Copyright @2021 by Kenn Storck

May be reprinted with permission.

kennstorck@gmail.com

Monday, November 15, 2021

 

When Sparrows Fall

 


She’s on ‘skid row’

no place to go

estranged and forlorn.

In the shelter they just stare

no one dares to touch or deeply care.

 

He’s at home

but always alone.

No one calls on the phone.

His long days continue to grow

As deep within he moans.

 

Trans and nowhere to turn

with a buried inner yearn.

“Pretend it is not so.

Get into the proper gender row!”

Yet one’s demise is ever slow.

 

…When sparrows fall, heaven knows.

 

For ‘Art After Hours’

Copyright @2021 by Kenn Storck

May be used with permission.

kennstorck@gmail.com

 

 

Monday, November 8, 2021

 

Nota Bene



Scribbling in the margins

N.B. marks one place.

Etched there in black ink

that cannot be erased.

 

Such books are not just read,

but entirely consumed.

Save for yet another time,

digested some late afternoon.

 

Bookmarks are out to measure

all that we have lost.

Scribblings in the margins

can never be tossed.

 

Books never scathed with marks

may be treasures to behold.

Those etched with underlines

point to memories that are gold.

 

Copyright @2021 by Kenn Storck

May be reprinted with permission

kennstorck@gmail.com

 

Friday, November 5, 2021

 


Letter from a Christian in Exile
 


I am writing to the Church (baptized members and institutions) from a metaphorical Patmos, exiled by benign neglect and the inertia of the status quo. I am writing to you not of my own accord but, like Jeremiah, I am compelled:

“If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more his name,’ then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.”  Jeremiah 20:9

The urgency of NOW:

We are amid a turning point, a 500-year mark, parallel to Luther’s time of great upheaval and change. At Luther’s time nation states were emerging and hierarchal institutions failing. The world was no longer flat, and the new world had just been discovered. The printing press enabled broader communication and spreading of the news of events more quickly. Theology was under scrutiny and being rewritten. It was indeed a time of transition and revolt (The Peasant’s Revolt – 1524 CE).

We are living through such a time as this: climate change is creating severe weather events and ignored will bring an end to habitable places on our globe leading to massive migration; outdated institutions use old paradigms that no longer address the needs of nations (USA Congress unable to function with a majority rule due to arcane procedures); the Church, too, is so structured and attached to buildings that it is no longer able to use the majority of its assets to help people and shows an unwillingness to make any substantive changes (i.e. consolidation of buildings, merging of faith communities, sharing staff). 

Our Democracy is under siege right now and we are well into autocracy taking over: lies of voting fraud is fueling unauthorized audits in many states, voting rights are being taken away; the January 6 Insurrection is a mere prelude to further action to reinstall a defeated, twice impeached corrupt former president and continue to undermine trust in the legal outcome of elections.

Our social fabric is teetering between justice for the marginalized and continued power for the white and wealthy privileged. Congress does not reflect the age and diversity of our population but reflects an aged wealthy class clinging to power. People of color are denied justice. There is an arbitrary and unfounded divide between ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and “Back the Blue.’  White supremacist groups are now sanctioned by the political leaders.

Our churches are aging and in decline and unable to pay off mortgages from years of building. Our worship still propagates a three-story universe with Creeds and liturgies that are no longer relevant. Our theology ignores the science that is telling us that there are multi-verses – not just our universe. Yet we continue to preach an anthropocentric theology.

Ten years from now many of our congregations will be forced to close unable to support a pastor and building much less an aggressive outreach mission. From my experience and what I have observed, too many of us are living by default and sliding into the status quo of institutional inertia. Rather than have an honest and forthright dialog with our people we keep on, keeping on. I sense that we prefer being nice to being faithful mid-wives for the rebirthing of the church.

In times of great upheaval and transition it is natural to cling to what we know and ride it through hoping that we can return to normal. With the pandemic continuing and the current unrest we see the rise of autocracy and fascist tendencies which meet the desire for certainty and quick action in the face of great turmoil.

That is a prognosis of the current historical times we are living in.

What is God up to and how can we participate in the Divine action? 

First, acknowledge where we are – affirm an honest prognosis of the situation. Then like Jeremiah, remain in Jerusalem, send our sidekick Baruch, to purchase downtown property while the city is being seized. Be ready to go into exile.

What is the ‘property’ our Baruch can purchase during our current seize?

Lutheranism is a confessional movement within the Church Catholic. What does that mean? We are not a denomination, but a Gospel-centered movement. As such institutional frameworks can and should be set aside when and if they are not useful for the propagation of the Gospel.

As a movement we are not confined to buildings or even denominationally constructed strictures that inhibit the free flow of the Gospel.

How can we best be this Gospel-centered movement in the 21st Century?

Teach one another to recognize and participate in God’s incoming kingdom in daily life. How we treat one another and neighbor in everyday interactions will bring about local change and renewal. Engaging in our local political structures and giving voice to the needs in our community. Charity is one thing, seeking justice in our city is another. We seek justice by boldly and with one voice speaking out and standing in solidarity with the least of these.

Congregational leaders and pastors publicly speaking out to the community through newspapers and social media calling to repentance leaders who support autocracy and the continued suppression of the marginalize. Our places of worship then become voices of hope not just for the inbred privileged, but for the marginalized.

Make advocacy central to the mission of each of our congregations. Bread for the World – a national advocacy group that lobbies congress to end hunger by 2030 is available for every congregation to participate in. Bread for the World came out of our Lutheran tradition and was led by Lutheran pastors in its more that 40 years of service. Check it out at www.bread.org.

Be open to dialog and re-birthing communities of faith through creating new fresh congregations by consolidation. Create ministries less centered on buildings and more centered on mission – storefronts, cell groups meeting in homes.

Take bold and intentional stances regarding being inclusive. Consider using the Reconciled in Christ process in our congregations and Synod to become transparent and intentional about outreach to the marginalized.

Do not underestimate or be dismissive of an autocratic takeover. It is happening now in local jurisdictions and coming together by 2022 and 2024. This is a prophetic observation, not paranoia. As autocracy threatens our democracy, we may need to create a Confessing Church which is outspoken against any fascist takeover.

There is no magic wand and I have no perfect or proven answers to where we find ourselves. All I know is that we urgently need immediate and sustainable change as we hospice a dying church and mid-wife it into new birth.


Respectfully submitted

Reformation Sunday, October 31, 2021

Rev. Kenneth R. Storck

kennstorck@gmail.com

 


Tuesday, November 2, 2021

 

In Deference to Jung

 


“Make friends with your shadow,”

the counselor said.

“Make friends with your shadow,

don’t live in its dread.”

 

A Dr. Jekyll,

a Mister Hyde

both are present

deep inside.

 

Don’t ignore.

Don’t subdue.

For the shadow

is a part of you.

 

Denial just gives

the shadow power.

Integration is the answer.

Now is the hour.

 

Warning, caution for those who deny:

you’ll end up a full of tyranny,

a Trump of sorts - never wrong,

full of lies, morality out the doors.

 

The lesson to learn

I humbly recommend:

Learn to befriend your shadow

or it will have you in the end.

 

Copyright @2021 Kenn Storck

May be reprinted with permission.

Contact: kennstorck@gmail.com

Saturday, October 23, 2021

 

Keys

 


The key of Eb

unlocks your dreams

while Minor D,

will make you seem

alone.

 

The key to a door

unlocks a room,

while a key to a car

may drive you to croon

alone.

 

The key to one’s mind

unlocks all truth,

while a key to your heart

may open your lost youth

alone.

 

The keys to a castle

unlocks your fears,

while a key to your home

can warm you for years

together.

 

Copyright @2021 Kenn Storck

May be used with permission.

Contact: kennstorck@gmail.com