lutherYes, I know it’s not until 2017, but a recent radio conversation about St Patrick’s day sparked me to think about the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The radio interviewer asked the Lord Mayor of Dublin, “Wasn’t St Patrick’s Day originally a religious festival?” The mayor replied, “Yes, but it has grown to be so much more now.” He proceeded to tell the interviewer that St Patrick was a Welshman who came to live in Ireland. “So,” the mayor said, “St Patrick’s Day reminds us how good it is to be welcoming of people from other cultures. So all people everywhere can join the day’s celebration.” Boy, do they ever! Even the Mexican restaurant where I ate supper on March 15th served green rice and printed “Happy St Patrick’s Day” on their receipts!

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miserable

As I watch the snow falling gently to the ground for the umpteenth time this winter, today’s USA Today tells me I should feel miserable. In fact, of all 35 districts of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, we of the Ohio District should feel the most miserable. Why? Because our district contains three of the most miserable states, according to a Gallup-Healthways survey. Ohio, at number 5, has the 13th lowest life-expectancy (77.8 years), Kentucky has the 6th lowest life expectancy (76 years), and West Virginia, ranked the most miserable state for the 5th year in a row, comes in with a life expectancy of 75.4 years (tied for 2nd lowest). But wait, there’s more! 30.9% of Ohio residents are obese (8th highest), 30.6% of Kentucky residents are obese (9th highest), and 34.4% of West Virginia residents are too fat for their own good (tied for 2nd place). Still not feeling it? Ohio’s median income is $46,829 (17th lowest), Kentucky’s is $41,724 (5th lowest), and West Virginia’s median income is $40,196 (3rd lowest).

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bling

Expensive jewelry, titles, name recognition, awards, upscale brands, prestigious zip codes – having these things excites a lot of people, according to pop singer Lorde. When you have these, you live large. But she craves “a different kind of buzz.” As I read the New Testament, Christians are to crave an altogether different kind of buzz, too. Paul describes it well enough in his letter to the Philippians: “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”

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