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?

By Paul Koch

God had delivered His people Israel from the house of slavery in Egypt. He had led them through the Red Sea on dry ground and brought them to the foot of Mt. Sinai. On the mountain Moses received from the Lord His 10 Commandments, and after some setbacks with a golden calf they constructed there the Tabernacle, the tent of meeting in which rested the Ark of the Covenant and the mercy seat. God who had dwelt on high now dwells right in their midst. This is huge. The location of God presence wasn’t something they just dreamed about, they now knew exactly where to find Him. And yet, as they finally move on from that mountain, as they begin to make their journey towards the Promised Land, the people of God begin to complain.

By Paul Koch

I was a Vicar at Peace Lutheran Church in Bremerton Washington 17 years ago. I remember, with astonishing clarity, driving down to church early in the morning and listening to some bewildering news on the radio. An airplane, no, make that two airplanes, had struck buildings in New York. Upon arriving at the church Day School office for morning devotions I found all the teachers and staff huddled around the computer watching the news as it was unfolding. It was a bit sketchy and disjointed as the reports came in but the picture began to develop; this was no accident but an attack.

By Paul Koch

A little framed picture hangs to the right of the door exiting my study which leads into the sanctuary of the church. Most people leaving through that door probably never even notice it, but I do. Though it is small, behind the glass is a simple and eloquent prayer. I’ve had it hanging on the wall of my study ever since I’ve had a study. I’ve read the words printed there so often that I have them memorized and simply looking at the dark mahogany frame causes me to recite them like some sort of strange Pavlovian reaction. It’s a prayer written by Luther, a prayer written for people like me. The first line reads:

By Paul Koch

I have a confession to make, I’ve never really liked the phrase “sharing Jesus.” I’m not sure why, but it has just always sounded weird to me. But I hear it all the time. I was watching the call service for the new pastors from the Seminary in St. Louis and the preacher must have emphasized over a dozen times the need to “share Jesus”. You must share him with the people, share him in this or that particular way, go out of your way to share your Lord. It makes it sound like you’re sitting down next to your neighbors with a big bowl of Jesus and you’re inviting them to dig in and get a bite. Like he is some sort of quantifiable substance that is passed back and forth. And it all sounds so easy, right? Just share him! Well, it’s not such a simple and straightforward task. It’s complicated. We have difficulty sharing Jesus with our own family and friends, let alone people we don’t know all that well. So just to say that you need to or ought to share Jesus doesn’t actually do much.