By Paul Koch

My arrival at her home was announced long before I rang the doorbell. Two little dogs proclaimed the approach a visitor by the time I started down the driveway. I was going to visit a dear old member of my congregation. I had been to her home many times before, and each time began the same way: with the hushing of yapping dogs and clearing off a place to sit.

By Paul Koch

There is something fascinating and beautiful, even poetic, about a well-set table. When you enter into a room and the table has more glasses, plates, and silverware than seem necessary for a single meal, you know you are getting ready for something special, something beyond the usual. It is no longer just about eating; it is about an experience, about conversation, laughter, and fellowship. There is a ritual to the whole event as well, movements that all the guests will go through as they create memories that evening. There is love, I think, encapsulated in the abundance. In the courses and the wines, the cloth napkins and the dessert forks, there is graciousness and kindness.

By Paul Koch

“Will you instruct both young and old in the chief articles of Christian doctrine, will you forgive the sins of the those who repent, and will you promised never to divulge the sins confessed to you? Will you minister faithfully to the sick and dying, and will you demonstrate to the Church a constant and ready ministry centered in the Gospel? Will you admonish and encourage the people to a lively confidence in Christ and in holy living?”

By Paul Koch

Ever since my first foray into the study of theology proper, I have heard professors and pastors alike say that the church’s liturgy can operate as a sort of safety net for Gospel. After all, the liturgy contains confession and absolution, leads through the reading of the Word, and culminates in the Sacrament of the Altar. Therefore, if everything else is a complete wreck—if the hymns that are sung are weak and repetitive nonsense meant only to pull at the heart strings; if the people sitting around you are bothersome and annoying little twits; if the sermon preached misses the mark, wandering off into a pointless Bible study or self-help pep talk; you would still have the body and blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, the Gospel, so you would be okay.

By Cindy Koch

In a time of war it makes perfect sense. You take the resources you have available and turn them into weapons against the enemy. Fighting for survival, everything hinges on the destruction of the other. Yes, it makes perfect sense to take the good gifts of God and craft your weapon to win the war. And what war do you find yourself fighting? What weapon are you crafting to fight the enemy?