Russell E. Saltzman is a former Lutheran pastor, transitioning to the Roman Catholic Church.

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Death, Again

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Another intrusive death is rising in my life, and not just my own. He was a vigorous seventy-eight-year-old until last November. Then he experienced a fall, and another, and swiftly lost his motor skills. In the space of just a few weeks he quickly went from cane to walker to wheelchair to bed. Continue Reading »

Violet’s Life

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Sometimes in parish ministry there are encounters with parishioners that leave one simply gasping, frustrated beyond comprehension, and there is little in the pastoral toolkit to help either pastor or parishioner. Continue Reading »

Time to Admit It: I Live in the Suburbs and Love It

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have to finally confess to myself: I live in a suburb. It has taken me a while to admit it. Suburban living has never been my ambition but it has become my fate. Even with a Kansas City, Missouri address, where I now live is indisputably a suburb. That’s because we live in Platte County north of the Missouri River above Jackson County. Jackson County is Kansas City; everywhere else is a suburb. Continue Reading »

Moving Mulberry Trees

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Increase our faith!” the disciples demanded of the Lord (Luke 17:5-10).“If,” the Lord reasonably replied, “you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.’”Huh? Mulberry tree? What happened to that faith-can-move-mountains thing? Well, the mountain is in St. Matthew’s report, and Matthew has Optimist Club optimism that faith, leveraged on a mustard seed, can move a mountain. Continue Reading »

A Prayer for Death

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We tame the Lord’s Prayer. We have to, so it isn’t nearly as disturbing to us as an incautious reading would reveal. Certainly it is a comfort. We use it for everything. It is often the first prayer we learn in worship and frequently the last to escape our lips. Routinely, we use it to conclude church meetings. That may be a misuse, the prayer being more radical than a mere way to clear out the room, but I’ve done it too. Continue Reading »

The Ass of Passion Sunday

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On Passion Sunday, more years than not, I give a children’s sermon. At the conclusion of the procession with palms and the Prayer of the Day, with the kids arrayed near the chancel, I selecte a kid as Jesus. We are going to enact the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. (Scholars may . . . . Continue Reading »

Oh, Bury Me Not

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Though I was never one for cemeteries and am not in the habit of visiting the graves of family or friends, I will consent to tour the graves of those long gone, whose tombstones are abraded and lichen-covered. There is a forlorn, lonesome quality to these graves so neglected through time. If the . . . . Continue Reading »

Organizing Unorganized Religion

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There is apparently now an organization for the one-fifth or so of Americans who always check “none” on forms asking for their religious preference. Folks in this self-described category are called “nones” (pronounced the same as “nuns,” though something entirely . . . . Continue Reading »

Resurrection vs. Immortality

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Theologies have the life of a mayfly. They come into fashion, rise, and then slip away, mostly unnoticed. It might be good, then, for seminarians and other readers to first learn some of the old theologies before traipsing off through the daisy fields of any new ones. Oscar Cullmann (1902-1999) is . . . . Continue Reading »