Friday, June 1, 2012

Church Cancels Church-To Be the Church- Join The Service!

Church Cancels Church- To Be The Church-Join the Service!

You can learn a bunch of theology by reading books by bread bakers.
Some of my favorite writers/bakers are:

Peter Reinhart

William Alexander

and of course,
Father Dominic Garramone, OSB
Bake and Be Blessed: Bread Baking as a Metaphor for Spiritual Growth

This coming Sunday, June 3, 2012 our congregation Bethany Lutheran Church is cancelling its 8 and 9am services in order to BE THE BLESSING. What that means is we have more than 750 people who are “skipping church” and going out to serve in the community. Check out

for a list and map of projects all over the metro Denver area.

What we are doing is similar to being “yeast.” Father Dom writes,
“Yeast symbolizes the enlivening principle in our lives, the core values and passions that make our lives worth living. For some people, work is at the center of their identity, so much so that when they retire or are no longer able to work, they lose their sense of self-worth. For others, life is centered on sports or entertainment, or on the acquisition of wealth. Other more positive values like family, creativity and service can be the passions that give our lives meaning. For Christians, however, the yeast in our lives should be the good news of the kingdom.” (page 33- Bake and Be Blessed.)

When yeast is mixed with water there is what I consider to be a lovely aroma. This Sunday I expect to “smell” the same aroma as members and friends of Bethany Lutheran Church, 4500 East Hampden, Cherry Hills Village, CO go about “mixing” in our community.

I'm grateful for all of our "stars" in the community this weekend.

For more information on this amazing activity check out

Or call 303-758-2820

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"Don't Miss the Boat!"

On Sunday, May 20th my colleague, Pastor Ruth Ann Loughry and I "tag-teamed" on a sermon.
The front of our sanctuary was set up to feature an ark because the Children's Choir was presenting a music, "THE RAINBOW EXPRESS" at the 9am service. So, we went with a nautical theme.
Here is what we shared:

May 20, 2012
Easter 7b
Don’t Miss the Boat
Pastor Ruth Ann Loughry
Pastor Ronald T. Glusenkamp

RAL-Good morning and welcome aboard the Rainbow Express.  Please take in hand the bulletin and let’s pray together once again that lovely prayer of the day.

All-“O God,
strength of the powerless and light in all darkness:
Look in mercy upon your church,
a wonderful and sacred mystery,
that it may be an ark of peace in the midst of chaos.
Let the whole world come to see
that what was fallen is being raised up,
that what was old is being made new,
and that all things are being restored to wholeness
through the one from whom they first took being,
Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
RAL – When God asked Noah to build the ark, it became a place of peace in the midst of chaos.  God was restoring to wholeness all of creation. Noah, his family and the animals might not have understood that, but they certainly understood God’s mercy as they looked out the windows and saw nothing but water. 

 RTG- I saw a church sign this past week that read, “Amateurs built the Ark, Experts built the Titanic.” While I am not so sure that I’d like amateurs to perform major surgery on me, I think what this really means is that “with God all things are possible.” As I shared this thought with Brenda Greenwald she said, “It’s really about the work of God’s hands versus the work of humans’ hands.”

RAL-Today we have our annual meeting, our outdoor carnival, t-shirt pick-up for BE THE BLESSING, updates on “renewed in faith” and the children’s musical. All of this connects in context to the “ark”-to the church that as the prayer states, “it might be an ark of peace in the midst of chaos.” On days like today we speak of “holy chaos” because there are so many things going on and it’s all for a good cause.  We invite you as the sermon title states, “don’t miss the boat.”  That is a call, a re-invitation to our theme for the year, “blessed to belong.” We belong to each other through the waters of Holy Baptism.
"Queen Bee" Stacie Schubert shows off
this year's t-shirt

RTG- Our nautical theme is most appropriate as we set sail for debt reduction and a new fiscal year. As you know we often join a church  with the hope that it will be a pleasure cruise on the “Love Boat” or the Good Ship Lollypop.

RAL- But sometimes due to a variety of circumstances, the storms of life come upon us bringing the effects of sin and sadness.  What we had hoped for - smooth sailing - becomes more like an experience of “Titanic” or the “Poseidon Adventure” or even worse “the Ship of Fools.”

RTG- One of my favorite paintings is by Delacroix and it is entitled “Christ on the Sea of Galilee.” The disciples are all upset as the storms rage around them and Jesus is asleep with his head on a life preserver. The good news in the photo is that in the middle of the storm, Jesus is in the middle of the disciples.  The Lord Almighty is in the boat with them!  And so they wake him up and Jesus says, “Peace, be still.”
"Christ on the Sea of Galilee"
RAL- The beauty of our Lutheran theology is that we worship an incarnational God: Jesus with skin on.  This Jesus doesn’t run from the storm or make the disciples row harder and faster.  God is with us in the midst of our storms and Jesus says to our troubled hearts and souls, “Peace, be still.”  Then there is a holy hush that settles over everything - all part of the storm.

RTG- Today’s sermon title, “Don’t miss the boat” is to invite you to stay engaged or to get engaged with BTB, RENEWED IN FAITH, Mission Trips, VBS, the Annual Meeting, Photo Directory, all sorts of wonderful ministries happening.
BLC happenings

RAL- At the same time, just like Noah and his family, the message is to remember that church and all it’s activities is not the destination, but the vehicle to get to that point in life and love where Jesus is the center of all things. “Don’t miss the boat” also means that at some point this holy ark of peace, sailing in the midst of chaos, will arrive at it’s destination and we the called sisters and brothers of God get off, disembark in a new land, a new place to honor, worship and serve God.

RTG- For God called Noah to walk in faith.  Jesus called Peter to get out of the boat and walk in faith.  God is still calling us today, to walk in faith whether it’s raining or not. 

RAL- We praise and thank God for Bethany.  For you her faithful members, for staff and their leadership, for programs and budgets and all that keeps God’s ministry here afloat.

RTG- We haven’t missed the boat.  And God is calling us to follow into new lands and new places to worship and serve God. 

RAL & RTG- Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Eating 042212

Easter 3b 2012
Pastor Ronald T. Glusenkamp
36b"Peace be with you." 37They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38He said to them, "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." 40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate in their presence.
44Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you — that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. Luke 24
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

There is a lovely line from the Didache (Teachings of the 12 Apostles-from the late first or second century) that has been served up into the hymn As the Grains of Wheat
As the grains of wheat once scattered on the hill were gathered into one to become our bread; so may all your people from all the ends of earth be gathered into one in you.
Text: Didache, 2nd cent.; Marty Haugen, b. 1950 Text © 1990 GIA Publications, Inc., 7404 S. Mason Ave., Chicago, IL 60638. 800.442.3358. All rights reserved. Used by permissi

Those words are a prayer, or perhaps even a recipe for harmony and unity, that we might be one in the One who makes all things new.
Today I am talking about EATING. As I was thinking about this series of Seeing, EATING and Walking it came to me that my mother, Levera Glusenkamp died seven years ago on April 16, 2005. So, there is some divine guidance in all of this because she was a very good cook who enjoyed serving food and also eating food. One of her mantras was, “If we can’t fry it, we can’t eat it!” And of course, that had and has ramifications for all of our cholesterol levels and coronary conditions.
"stars + promises"
The kitchen where my mother and my two grandmothers cooked (who were divas of dining) was a very welcoming, inclusive and experimental area. Very little precise measuring was done. There was a pinch here and a sprinkle of this or that there. Tasting was all important to the process.I like to tell people that I come from a “food equals love” family. While the words “I love you” were not always easily spoken, (as they are today) love was expressed by the plenteous portions of food. Seconds and thirds were always available. If you hung around the kitchen you were invited (read commanded) to participate in the cooking, baking or cleaning up process. To this very day, I find being in the kitchen a holy place and space.

So yesterday I made communion bread for today. I did so because after it is all said and done I am so thankful and pleased that every Sunday, every service, week in and week out we gather around this table to remember. There is something amazing and holy about eating. It is so basic, primal and sensual to take something and put it in one’s mouth. To chew and to taste the various flavors that exist. In the communion bread for today you will taste honey, molasses and the whole grain wheat. You’ll have to chew it a little bit more than the wafers. And in so doing, I hope and pray that you are lead to imagine being part of the feast of victory. It is about TRUST!
One of my prayers is that pastors, parishioners and seminary professors might be as passionate about Jesus, the Bread of Life, as some of the leading “theologians” on the Food Network or Cooking Channel are, such as Paula Dean, Jamie Oliver, Emeril, Gordon Ramsey, Rachel Ray, Nigella Lawson, Anthony Boudain and of course, Martha Stewart.

One of the things that I experienced over and over again on sabbatical is that we (folks who gather together) when we are involved in “blessing, breaking and sharing” the Bread of Life for those who hunger and search for the real, meal deal, that is when church is growing and going. On the other hand when we act as “consumers” and kind of write up restaurant reviews, that is when church is static and not alive. Instead of critiquing what it is we like or don’t like we need to be part of the distribution channel of “blessing, breaking and sharing” the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ. That is what it means to belong. I know that in my own self, when I forget my child of God status and switch on my food critic status, then I don’t “taste and see” that the Lord is good and the people of God are good. Instead I have “spiritual indigestion.” However, when I put on my apron (and that’s really a sign of service) or when I gather food for Metro CareRing so that others might be fed, then I know “who I am and Whose I am.” Pastor Ruth Ann serves on the board at Urban Servant Corps (they just celebrated 25 years of service).That’s why BE THE BLESSING is so life giving. So in other words, when a congregation, a community of believers, sees themselves as bakery, or a collection or distribution point where the hungry can be fed, when the searching can be led, that is what Jesus is calling us to do.

I hope by now you’ve all received the mailing about “Renewed in Faith.” I want to publicly commend the elected leadership of this congregation that was able to discern this
is a “God thing.” For us to be able to put forward this wonderful opportunity and challenge to be debt free by freely giving of our talents.

Abbot Christopher Jamison (WORTH ABBEY) has written in his book, Finding Happiness-Monastic Steps for a Fulfilling Life,
“Never has so much food been as easily and quickly available as it is today, and yet Western culture suffers from both too much eating and too little, from obesity and anorexia, or other eating disorders. (page 73)
This is where we find ourselves today. It is a place of tension and contradictions. The disciples were in a similar spot. They were confused and worried. They didn’t know if Jesus was a ghost of if he was really alive. They gathered and ate together and in doing so experienced Jesus. He commissioned them to be “witnesses.”
Take in hand the ELW, if you will, and turn to page 23. I’d like for us to read together the third prayer from the top. This is an old collect, originally written by Thomas Cramner in the 16th century.

Blessed Lord God, you have caused the holy scriptures to be written for the nourishment of your people. Grant that we may hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, comforted by your promises, we may embrace and forever hold fast to the hope of eternal life, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. amen
“He said to me, O mortal, eat what is offered to you; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel. 2So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. 3He said to me, Mortal, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it. Then I ate it; and in my mouth it was as sweet as honey.” Ezekiel 3

On sabbatical I thought a lot about patterns and connections. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and were exiled. You and I are invited by Jesus to eat and drink in remembrance of him. When we do so we are invited to be at home where there is a thanksgiving feast.

Three quick stories.
As I said, I come from food equals love, so one time after I had said this a great deal, a dear friend of mine, Cindy, went to New Hampshire on vacation. I was at home and
heard the door bell ring. By the time I got to the door the only thing there was a gallon of maple syrup with the note, “if food equals love, this should hold for a while.”
Secondly, in my second parish, Immanuel Lutheran Church, I introduced using real bread at communion. This was a big cultural shift for the good people. On the first Sunday we did it, I was standing in the center aisle breaking off big pieces of bread and saying “the body of Christ given for you.” One woman, Lillian Gee, who now celebrates the feast in heaven, came up and I put a big piece in her hand. She looked at me and then at the bread and then she said, “It’s too much for me.” I told her, “It’s too much for all of us.”
Last but not least, once when I was cycling on the KATY Trail with a good friend of mine, we had done quite a few miles and we stopped in the KATY CANTEEN. It was mid-morning. There was a woman behind the counter who was waitress and cook. I asked, “Is it too early for lunch?” She looked at me, smiled and said, “Not if you’re hungry.” Churches all over the world should take lessons for her, “not if you’re hungry.”
As the Grains of Wheat
As the grains of wheat once scattered on the hill were gathered into one to become our bread; so may all your people from all the ends of earth be gathered into one in you.
There are three pictures at the National Gallery in London that connect to today’s sermon. You might want to look at them and talk about them with family and/or friends.
On sabbatical I wrote about the SACRED BANQUET. You can check it out by going to

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Sweetness of the Cross - Easter Sunday 600am sermon

Happy Easter! I am the preacher at our 600am service on Easter Sunday.
So, here's what I'm going to say.
I wanted to share with you some pictures of baking as well. The picture below is one of me kneading the Hot Cross Buns. Scroll down to see the finished product!

Easter Sunrise Service- 600 am 040812
“The Sweetness of the Cross”

Christ is Risen.

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.

11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." 14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." 16Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

It is so good to be with you this morning. I just love the fact that we got up early to wander around in the dark. It is such a holy moment when night peels away and dawn breaks into the realm of day. My hope and prayer is that when you leave here this morning you will join the saints of the ages, “I have seen the Lord!”

This early wakeup call is symbolic for what happens at times in our spiritual lives. For like Mary Magdalene we wander and wonder in the dark.
And then Jesus interrupts our grieving and confusion by calling us by name.
And what that means for you, for me, for all people is that no matter how broken life seems. No matter how dark or hopeless it seems. No matter how sad and heart broken you are. Jesus comes into our lives like sunshine. Clement of Alexandria said many years ago, “Christ has turned all of our sunsets into dawns.” So, endings are not the final word, but with each ending, there is a new, wonderful beginning.

Mary Magdalene was in the darkness. She couldn't see because her heart was broken, her dreams were shattered, her hope was lost. But, the good news is that Jesus came to her as she was wandering and wondering around in the dark.
15Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?"
In an interesting case of mistaken identity, she thinks Jesus is the "gardener." I've always thought that to be such a funny/interesting line, but maybe she is more accurate than she knows. For earlier in this gospel Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing," (John 15:5).
Despite the darkness, the cloudiness, the fog of grief that she is wrapped in, the LIGHT shines in the darkness, the LIGHT no darkness can overcome.
Jesus simply calls her by name, "Mary." And then she says, "Rabbouni," which means "my teacher." She then takes off and has perhaps the shortest Easter sermon on record, "I have seen the Lord." Five simple words of authentic testimony. "I HAVE SEEN THE LORD." She doesn't say, "I've thought about the Lord." But, "I've SEEN the Lord."
The LIGHT SHINES in the darkness; it makes us whole.
God bless you and let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.
Some of you know that I am a baker. So, my practice on Holy Saturday is to make hot cross buns. As I was making them the obvious notion came to me of the "sweetness of the cross." So, here we are after the weariness, the loss, the pain and the suffering and death-to a new day, a new way, a new LIFE! The sweetness of the cross is balm for our heartbroken souls.
As the Psalmist sang so cheerfully in Psalm 34, "taste and see that the Lord is good!"

Christ is Risen. Christ is RISEN INDEED!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

"No Foolin"

"I have arrived. I am home" This calligraphy by Tich Nhat Hanh sums it up very well. "I have arrived. I am home." It is all about being in the moment. What it says to me is that one is to be mindful that wherever one is, at that moment they are already where they are going. At the same time, regardless of where one is, one can be at home. 

So after almost three months I am back in Denver. I arrived on late on Tuesday evening. Sue Ann greeted me at the airport. On Wednesday I was still definitely on London time. On Thursday and Friday I met with Pastor Ruth Ann, my fabulous colleague who over saw pastoral leadership at Bethany during the sabbatical. We've talked about the past three months and looked ahead to the activities and services of Holy Week.

The first day back in the office will be Tuesday, April 3rd. The first service that I will be at is Maundy Thursday at 12 noon and then followed by Maundy Thursday at 7pm.
Given the fact that I left on January 4th, I'm doing my very best to be quite intentional about the process of re-entry in terms of personal and professional relationships.

This afternoon Sue Ann and I are heading up to Chautauqua for two nights It's a huge gift from the congregation for us to be granted space in which to intentionally re-engage in the life of the community.

One of the things I did this morning was to return to Weight Watchers. Over the past few months I've been watching my weight (among other things). I know that in order to be a healthy leader that I need to "watch" over my body, mind and spirit.

I just love it when "march madness" overlaps with this weekend of the Passion of our Lord. A double blessings is Sunday falling on April Fool's Day.

May the arrival of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem on this festival of March Madness find you at home
with the wondrous news conveyed in the following prayer for the day:


Everlasting God, in your endless love for the human race
you sent our Lord Jesus Christ to take on our nature
and to suffer death on the cross.
In your mercy enable us to share in his obedience to your will
and in the glorious victory of his resurrection,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.Amen

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"Listening and Communicating"

This is my last weekend before I come home. I've had fantastic experiences for which I feel very blessed.

Last night I saw THE KING'S SPEECH. It was phenomenal. Some of you know that I didn't talk until I was three years old. And then when I did, I had speech impediments. When I went to grade school I was referred to speech therapy. So, for several years my mother Levera took me to the sessions.
It's hard not to watch the play and think about my own experiences as well as those of everyone who have struggled to find a voice and express themselves in language. It's all part of the comedy of the gospel that I spend a good deal of my  time listening, communicating and speaking.

In many ways THE KING'S SPEECH is a a wonderful example of what I've been working on during the sabbatical. It's been about listening and watching various entities in our modern world communicating about God, hospitality, love and inclusiveness. I am most grateful to the good people of St. Martin-in-the-Fields for providing a "home base" during this time. When I return back to Denver I'll begin assembling my thoughts and feelings about what I have seen and done.

I just saw that the Anglican Covenant was rejected.
It's a pretty complex issue, but it is also another example of what many faith communities are working through as attendance in the pews decreases while there is an apparent increase in "spirituality."
Once again a key issue is how we listen to each other. How is it that we walk and talk with one another. The Archbishop of Canterbury had promoted this Covenant. Earlier this month he announced that he will be resigning at the end of 2012.

Twist + Shout!

You all know that I love pretzels. During my quick trip to Berlin I was able to sample some fabulous
pretzels. My good friend Gus still makes the very best pretzels that I've ever tasted. He also embodies friendship and hospitality. You can learn a great deal by visiting a pretzel shop like Gus' Pretzels.

Of course, you can't talk about pretzels without talking about Martin Luther. I saw this statute in Berlin and it made my heart sing. Luther had the genius to be able to communicate across various mediums and constituencies. His insights still greatly influence the world today.

At another church I saw this tribute to Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was executed

by the Nazis on April 9, 1945 (just 23 days before the Nazi surrender). This year that date is EASTER MONDAY. His witness is deeply profound and continues to resound throughout the world.

While in Berlin I visited five museums with one of my favorites being the Pergamon.
Way back in 1975 I had my 21st birthday in Berlin. So, it was fantastic to be able to retrace some of my steps.  As we get ready for Holy Week beginning on April 1, I am mindful of the saying about the month of March, "In like a Lion out like a Lamb." This accurately expresses the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem followed by his Sacrifice as the perfect Passover Lamb.

Today we remember +Oscar Romero+ priest, bishop, martyr


Monday, March 5, 2012

Back to Church 030512

Vicar Richard James beneath Luther Quote

I met today with Vicar Richard James of Christ Church, Cockfosters
to talk about BACK TO CHURCH SUNDAY We had a delightful time of conversation and prayer. As he showed me around the church building I noticed the lovely quote by Martin Luther. We had a good time talking, listening and discerning God's plan. 

It is so grand to meet fellow ministers who have a passion for the people of God and God's church.
I suggested to him that perhaps Bethany and Christ Church should become prayer partners regarding Back to Church Sunday. As the prayer for ALL SAINTS DAY states, "we are knit together."

Blessed be the "tie that binds"