Pastoral Care

How Do We Start Again?:  Reconsidering Pastoral Ethics in the ELCA from the Vantage Point of Interim Ministry

[1] As a pastor in the LCA ordained in 1981 now serving in the ELCA, I experienced the embodied pastoral ethics of Vison and Expectations as being too weighted in scope and emphasis on sexual ethics so that all other ethical considerations were overwhelmed.  Today, with the demise of Vision and Expectations, there remains a […]

For Congregational Discussion: Pastoral Ethics

[1] Each issue, the editorial staff at JLE create questions to spark conversation for adult education and to inspire thoughtful contemplation and reflection for individual readers.  Because of the topic of this edition, many of these questions might be especially fruitful for conversation in the congregational setting as members consider constructive approaches to challenges in […]

Pastoral Care and Ecological Devastation: Un-Interpreting the Silence

Climate change has already begun changing the world as we know it–and it is hitting the poor and marginalized the hardest. What is a pastoral response to those working against climate change and those affected by it? Saler explores how as Christians we have the ability to hold onto hope while still naming and experiencing pain. Claims of hope should not muffle shouts of pain, nor should pain eclipse the knowledge that God will bring about a new heaven and earth.

Commending Life’s End to God: The ELCA Message on “End-of-Life Decisions” After Two Decades

Luther’s sermons and letters of pastoral counsel speak eloquently about the ability of faithful Christians to face death confidently trusting God’s promises in the Gospel. In that spirit, the ELCA adopted a social message on “End-of-Life Decisions” in 1992 that picks up this tradition of speaking honestly and faithfully to issues faced by the dying and their loved ones. As a hospital chaplain, Klink explores the gifts of the 1992 message and ponders​ what issues and questions might need further work from a Lutheran perspective given the changes in technological, medical and social climate over the last two decades.

Editor’s Introduction: What does it mean to die well?

What does it mean to die well in this culture? While far too many people never have the opportunity to face that question because their lives are snuffed out, it is being asked with greater urgency and frequency as contemporary societies become more scientifically and medically sophisticated.

Luther, Linck, and Later Lutherans on Pastoral Care to the Sick and Dying

In the Christian tradition, pastoral care to the dying has a long history. ​​Reinis particularly explores ​​the medieval literary genre of self-help books known as the ars moriendi, or “art of dying.” Martin Luther contributed to this genre with his Sermon on Preparing to Die (1519); dozens of Lutheran pastors, among them Wenzeslaus Linck in Nuremberg and Martin Moller in G​​örlitz, followed in his footsteps. All of them offered spiritual comfort to the dying in ways that addressed contemporary concerns. The recently-published The Divine Art of Dying (2014) by Karen Speerstra and Herbert A​nderson heralds a long-overdue renaissance of this genre. Reinis considers how ​the practices of the past can inform our actions today in our increasingly secularized society.

Review: Is God Still at the Bedside? The Medical, Ethical, and Pastoral Issues of Death and Dying (Eerdmans, 2011)

Evans, Abigail Rian. Is God Still at the Bedside? The Medical, Ethical, and Pastoral Issues of Death and Dying. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2011. Pp. ix + 484. $22.23.

Pastoral Implications of Deus Caritas Est

[1] The first encyclical letter of Pope Benedict XVI is a reflection on I John 4:16b, the first words of which comprise its title: God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. It is dated December 25, 2005 (although it was released a month later, apparently […]

A Preface to Pastoral Care after Easter

What does this mean? Luther asks this of each of the Ten Commandments, each petition of the Lord’s Prayer, and the Creed in order to reveal the implications of our articles of faith. We ask this question of Easter Sunday in the context of pastoral care. What does it mean to us that our Lord […]

Giving Moral Guidance in the Congregation: One Pastor’s Point of View

[1] I serve as pastor of a wonderfully diverse, small (but growing) downtown congregation in Jersey City, New Jersey. Jersey City, for those who may be unaware of our location, is right across the river from lower Manhattan. The magnificence of the World Trade Center had been the primary view from our side of the […]