Cross-Marked and Spirit-Sealed Children of God

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” Romans 6:3

In mid-January I experienced a distinct pleasure that I have had only a handful of times over the last six and a half years of ministry as bishop: I preached and presided at the baptism of Xavier Alan Burkholder, the son of two of this synod’s pastors, Joshua Burkholder and Carolyn Lesmeister. Over the last half dozen years, I have presided at Communion and preached for countless worship services across and beyond this territory. I have presided at somewhere between 35 and 40 commissionings, consecrations, and ordinations. All of these experiences bring me deep joy as a pastor and bishop. But every time I pour the water and Word over the head of a new sister or brother in Christ, I am brought back again to the very essence of who I am and who we are as baptized and beloved, cross-marked and Spirit-sealed children of God. This is the foundation for all our worship, ministry, and service in the world.

You shall be called, “Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.”

Isaiah 62:6-12 is one of the suggested readings for Christmas Day. There are no shepherds in Isaiah’s proclamation, no star, no angels or magi, no Mary, Joseph or Jesus. There is only promise, the encouragement to hold God to God’s promise, and sentinels and ensigns to herald the fulfillment of the promise drawing near. See, your salvation comes! You shall be called, “Sought Out…Not Forsaken”!

More than a year ago, the I-K Synod began work with Augsburg Fortress and the Theological Book Network to provide desperately needed books for the library of the theological seminary (“STT”) of the HKBP, our companion church in Indonesia. Essentially, the synod raised the money and made the connections, Augsburg Fortress provided the books, and the Theological Book Network made it happen. While the delivery of the books was greatly delayed, we recently received notice that they have finally arrived (all 42 boxes!) and are nestled on the shelves and in the hands of students and faculty of the seminary. Thanks to all who partnered together to make this happen!

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Ecumenical witness and the Reformation anniversary webcast

It’s not too late to revisit the webcast!  Join Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton for the webcast that explored ecumenical and interreligious witness on the eve of the Reformation anniversary.

  • What was the Reformation, and what does it mean for Lutherans and ecumenical partners?
  • What is “Declaration on the Way,” and why is it significant for Lutheran-Catholic relations?
  • How might we understand our ecumenical and inter-religious relationships as part of our participation in the ongoing Reformation?

Click here to visit the site.


Give us this day our daily bread.
The Lord’s Prayer, 4th Petition, Small Catechism 
 AJ Jacobs, a self-professed agnostic who is not sure he believes in God, spent a year of his life living as literally as possible according to the “rules” or commands that he found in the Bible.  “At the beginning of the year,” he says, “I wrote down every rule, every guideline, every suggestion, every nugget of advice I could find in the Bible. It’s a very long list. It runs 72 pages. More than 700 rules. Some rules were wise, some completely baffling…


Where every member is a missionary, every pastor is a mission director, and every congregation is a mission center.