Lexegete™ | Year B | St. Mark
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 11, 2009 (Lectionary 28)
Amos 5:6-7, 10-15
Job 23:1-9, 16-17
Psalm 22:1-15 (1)
Prayer of the Day
Almighty and ever-living God, increase in us your gift of faith, that, forsaking what lies behind and reaching out to what lies ahead, we may follow the way of your commandments and receive the crown of everlasting joy, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
Alleluia. Blessed are the | poor in spirit,
for theirs is the king- | dom of heaven. Alleluia. (Matt. 5:3)
1a. First Lesson - RC = 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
RC - Wisdom 7:7-11 ; C - Genesis 3:8-19
E/C - Proper 23 (Sunday closest to Oct. 12)
E/L - Amos 5:6-7, 10-15
Amos5:6 Seek the LORD and live, or he will break out against the house of Joseph like fire, and it will devour Bethel, with no one to quench it.
Amos5:7 Ah, you that turn justice to wormwood, and bring righteousness to the ground!
Amos5:10 They hate the one who reproves in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.
Amos5:11 Therefore because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not live in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine.
Amos5:12 For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins-- you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and push aside the needy in the gate.
Amos5:13 Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time; for it is an evil time.
Amos5:14 Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, just as
you have said.
Amos5:15 Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
1b. Second Lesson
R - Hebrews 4:12-13 ; C-Hebrews 4:1-3,9-13
E/L - Hebrews 3:1-6
Heb. 4:12 Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Heb. 4:13 And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.
Heb. 4:14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.
Heb. 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.
Heb. 4:16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
1c. Gospel R/E/L/C Mark 10:17-27 (C:17-30) (31)
The Rich Young Man
17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is  to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him,  “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
 10:24 Some manuscripts add for those who trust in riches
 10:26 Some manuscripts to one another
1d. Context: Mark 10:17-27 (28-30) (31)
Much of what was said about Pentecost 20 B applies to this text as well. Jesus'
conversation on riches and the discussion of the reward for discipleship is situated in the fourth major section of Mark's gospel (8:29-10:45), a section which deals with the topics of Christology and Discipleship as they are nuanced by the prediction of the Passion. The section is organized around the theme of a journey whose stepping stones are the three predictions of the Passion. Misunderstanding about the necessity of Jesus' suffering occasioned the teaching on discipleship. It is within this context that Jesus' views on riches are expressed. (Daniel Malone, p. 78) The first words of the text remind us that Jesus is still on his journey to the cross [kai, the story-telling linkage; ekporeuomenou autou eis hodon, "as he was going out (genitive absolute of ekporeuomai) into his way . . "]. "By using the preposition eis ("into"), the narrator expresses a sense of direction. There is only one way, and its course is predetermined. Jesus knows the way, because he entered upon it through submission to John's baptism of repentance. Its end is like its beginning: death followed by resurrection." (Waetjen, p. 167; cf. Waetjen's discussion of Jesus' baptism, pp. 63-74) Fundamentally, this passage tells the story about an invitation to discipleship.
The story of Jesus' encounter with a man who asks about eternal life is found in all three synoptic gospels. Only Matthew says that the man was "young;" only Luke says that he was a "ruler." All three say that he was "rich" (v. 23c and parallels), and in Mark this is the only description given. The passage unfolds in three parts with a conclusion: (1) Jesus encounters a rich man, 17-22; (2) Jesus teaches his disciples about the dangers of wealth, 23- 27; and (3) Jesus reassures Peter, 28-30; with a concluding saying, 31.
2.Analysis: Mark 10:17-27 (28-30) (31)
[17-22] As Jesus proceeds on his way, he is confronted, in a somewhat dramatic scene, by a man who ran up (prostrecho, aorist participle) to him and then knelt down (gonypeteo, aor. ptc.) before him. The man's running expresses his sense of urgency; his kneeling highlights his view of Jesus' importance and, perhaps, the importance of his need. On the one hand, the kneeling joined with his greeting hints of an actor overplaying his part. On the other hand, unlike the Pharisees and others, the man has not come to trick, trap or test Jesus. At least he comes as a seeker, someone
asking about "ultimate things." "Good Teacher" (didaskale agathe), the man says. If Jesus is a teacher, not a god or king, then why the kneeling? Nineham comments that the man's behavior "reveals first that the stranger was altogether too obsequious and effusive in his approach. Jesus pricks the bubble of his fulsomeness by reminding him that religion has a hard, practical side. The way to obtain eternal life is not by giving flattering titles to Jesus, but by doing the will of the Father." (p. 270) The man's question gives us a clue to explain his overwrought behavior: "What must I do (poieso, either aorist subjunctive deliberative or future indicative, which has much the same meaning) to inherit (kleronomeo, aor. subj., literally "assign lot") eternal life (zoe aionios)?"
Here, in Mark's Gospel, "eternal life" is virtually synonymous with "kingdom of God" (cf. 10:14, 15, 23, 24, 25), and similar to being "saved" (v. 26). "Generally an inheritance is not earned by works; rather, it is awarded on the basis of genealogical lineage. It is ironic that this individual should be raising this question, for the eternal life that he craves is available to him on the basis of his integrity as a Jew, a member of God's elect people Israel. That, in fact, is what Jesus intimates in his response, 'You know the commandments.'" (Waetjen, p. 168) And yet, the language of "inheriting" eternal life was in common usage among the rabbis of Jesus' time. (Nineham, p. 273) The rich man is taking seriously the need to be an active member of the family to whom the inheritance is promised. (Juel, p. 145) Jesus responds by observing that only God is good. His response has the sound of a rebuff. Is Jesus just a bit put-off by the man's obsequiousness? Does Jesus sense that the man is a bit misdirected, unaware of the absolute worth of God, the one and only, in his life? The man kneels to Jesus, but Jesus directs the man to God. Isn't that an overarching theme of Jesus' ministry, to point to God? Remember, he "came not to be served but to serve . . " (Mark 10:45). God is the only source of all that is good. Jesus' life is to proclaim and manifest that truth.He "did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped" (Philippians 2:6b). In this light, it is interesting that the commandments of the covenant that Jesus cites as the way to eternal life are not those from the first table of the law, focused on our relationship with God, but those from the second table of the law, focused on our relationships with one another. Eternal life has to do with justice and kindness in human relationships. The injunction, "You shall not defraud" (apostereo, aor. subj.), appears to be a way of summarizing the tenth commandment--"You shall not covet." Perhaps the word "defraud" is used because fraudulence is a special temptation of the rich. (Nineham, p. 274) Is the commandment "Honor your father and mother" listed last as a way of underscoring it, or because it, as opposed to the others, is less concerned with property issues? After the man answers that he has "kept (phylasso, aor. middle; to guard or observe) all these since (his) youth," we read that "Jesus, looking at him (emblepo, aor. ptc.; to look hard or straight at someone, to gaze intently), loved him" (agapao, aor.). Jesus felt for the man, for his sincere but ultimately shallow religiousness. Nineham suggests that Jesus expressed this by a gesture of affection (pp. 274-275). Yet, Jesus, obviously, was not impressed, saying, "You lack (hustereo) one thing . . ." Then follow five imperatives, which are essentially one command: go, sell, give,
come, and follow. [By the way, the "poor," ptochos, are those who "cower," ptosso.] After hearing of the "one thing" that was, in effect, everything, the man leaves, crestfallen (stygnazo, aor. ptc.; "somber," "gloomy," "down in the mouth," "his countenance fallen," "appalled") and sorrowful (lypeo, passive ptc.; "distressed," "grieved," "sad," "sorry"). Why? Because he had many possessions (or did they have him?).
[23-27] Some commentators, such as Ernest Best, make much about the Markan construction of this section (cf. Disciples and Discipleship, p. 18ff.; Best has similar remarks about 10:28-31), suggesting an "original" or pre-Markan order. But, as Williamson, Nineham and others point out, the present order and construction is plenty understandable (so let's not worry about it, O.K.?). Jesus turns to his disciples, giving them and us words of instruction about the dangers of wealth and the rigors of discipleship. "Then Jesus looked around [periblepomai, aor. ptc.; a peculiarly
Markan term, used mostly by Jesus (5 times out of 6 in Mark), in 3:5 (and Lukan parallel); 3:34; 5:32; and 11:11] and said to his disciples, 'How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!'" The disciples are addressed as "children" (tekna, as opposed to paidia in 10:13-16), and so, the disciples and we are being connected to the previous words of Jesus (10:13-16) about entering the kingdom of God. While the rich man's reaction to Jesus' words was a kind of shock and sorrow, the reaction of the disciples is to become perplexed or astonished (thambeo, perfect passive; of the evangelists, used only by Mark). Whereas, traditionally, wealth
was considered a beneficent blessing from God, a sign of God's "positive evaluation" (not dissimilar from the teachings of the Puritans), Jesus, on the other hand, sees it as a hindrance to participating in the reign of God. According to the text, Jesus moves from a specific case (the rich man) to a generalization about all who are wealthy, and then to a further generalization which includes us all (v. 24b).
The analogy or proverb of the camel and the eye of the needle focuses again on the rich, while the final generalization (v. 27) applies to everyone. The vivid image of the camel squeezing through the eye of a needle is both humorous and to the point. The camel was likely the largest animal the people knew about; the eye of the needle was about the smallest space they knew for fitting something (thread) through. The example both elaborates and makes the point--"you can't get to heaven in a Cadillac." At this news the disciples were exceedingly (perissos, used in the NT only
twice, here and in Mk. 15:14) astounded (ekplesso, imperfect passive; "overwhelmed," as it were "struck outside" oneself). The disciples were not so surprised that it is hard to enter the kingdom of God; rather, they are shaken that it would be difficult for the rich to enter. After all, aren't the rich the ones who have plenty to spend by way of doing religious things? Can't they give alms freely and regularly? "Such instruction comes as a great surprise to the disciples, who have been brought up in the rabbinic teaching that worldly wealth, though it involves great responsibility, is on the whole a sign of God's favor and makes easier the 'good works' on which salvation will depend." (Nineham, p. 271.)
[28-30] Speaking on behalf of the disciple-corps, Peter seeks reassurance for himself and themselves, who have left "everything" (panta) to follow Jesus. We are reminded of the first "callto- discipleship" scene in 1:16-20. Jesus does not rebuke Peter or the others for overstating their case (cf. 1:29; 3:9; 4:1, 36); rather, he responds to their feelings of insecurity with a solemn assertion, "Truly I tell you . . . " (cf. 10:15). These words take up not only financial concerns but familial concerns. What we do for the sake of Jesus and for the sake of the Gospel will have promise and blessing, not only in the "age to come" but also "now in this age" (kairos, this "right time"). We may not have the promise of renewed financial wealth, but we will have a new community in Christ, community in abundance ("hundredfold") and fullness, a community that can face and survive "persecutions" (diogmos, for dioko, meaning "pursue").
3. Strategy: Mark 10:17-27 (28-30) (31)
How do we come to Jesus? How do we enter the Kingdom? Is it by pious words and
genuflection? Is discipleship about obeying some holy do's and don'ts, getting the religious etiquette down; or is it about a radical transformation of life which includes a free submission to the will and way of God? The rich man comes seeking. He is already aware that there is something he lacks. What is it? He has been keeping the Law faithfully, all his life. Perhaps, for that very reason, he has come to realize that there must be something else, something missing.
He is like a young Luther, struggling for eternal security. The one thing he lacks is, in effect, everything. As John Wesley once wrote, Jesus is saying that if you would have eternal life, then you need "the love of God, without which all religion is a dead carcass. In order to do this, throw away what to thee is the grand hindrance of it. Give up thy great idol, riches." (quoted by Gareth L. Cockerill, p. 14)
The rich man came seeking, to get himself some eternal life. He came getting, not giving. "The man came to Jesus eagerly enough, but he did not receive what he wanted because he wouldn't give up what he had." (Cockerill, pp. 19- 20) I am reminded of the story of Cain and Abel making their offering to God (Gn. 4:1-7). Is the rich man fallen in countenance for much the same reason that Cain was down in the mouth? Cain seemed more interested in getting God's blessing than in giving thanks. Isn't there reward enough in the relationship God makes with us? Let God be God and get on with
it. As Amos says, in the first lesson for the day, "Seek the Lord and live . . ." Trust God. For the rich man this means giving "it" (his wealth, his hold on life) away, giving to the poor, giving for the sake of others. God is there, not only in the poor but in the giving.
"Eternal life" is not a religious commodity, bought by means of religious performance. Eternal life is a way of being with God; it is a way of following the way of Christ. [Cf. Frederick Buechner's words on "eternal life" in Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC.] Eternal life is gift, God's gift to give, not for us to possess but for us to celebrate in a new community, a community which is also God's gift. This is a community formed by God of those who have died--died to wealth and possessing, died to control and keeping, died to self-aggrandizing power in this world (whether in the family of mother, father, sister, brother, children, or in the marketplace of farms, fields and commodities, or in the arena of politics, etc.),
died to self.
The rich man wants security. "The uncovering of his basic disposition of dependence on wealth shows that his obedience to the law is similar: he accumulates possessions and he accumulates obedience in order to make himself secure" (Via, pp. 134-135). He wants the answer. He is intense about it. He is serious and sincere. He comes running. We may admire his intensity and his acting with compunction. He's an achiever, a doer. He's not lazy in his religious faith. He leads a good life--a reason for Jesus to love him, for his heart to go out to the man. After all, he's making a genuine effort. He's not taking his faith for granted. He's not making weak excuses, justifying himself. And yet, doesn't his inability to respond to Jesus give us a hint that he is focused upon efforts of self-justification? Jesus' radical call to discipleship is pushing the rich man to his limits. Jesus is asking him to abandon his religious security as well as his financial security. The rich man is being challenged to give up control. This is his version of Abraham's walk up the mountain of Moriah with his son Isaac. He's motivated, but his faith lacks follow
through. As long as faith can be defined as and limited to prescribed procedures (e.g.,
genuflection, obeying the rules, etc.), then this man can discipline his life to master the requirements. But when faith is an open invitation to follow wherever Jesus leads, then he is no longer master of his own destiny and religion becomes a fathomless abyss which can be crossed only by trusting God, by a "leap of faith." In this story, the church is supplied with an explanation of the failure of the gospel to come home to some to whom it was preached. (Best, Disciples and Discipleship, p. 112) They turn down the Good News because the change of life's direction which it requires is just too great. The sacrifice is too great, whether it's leaving the land, the house, the family, riches, or whatever. "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead" (Mt. 8:22; cf. Lk. 9:59-60). The entire chapter [chapter 10] forms a unified treatment of the family and related issues of property and hierarchy. Its message is that full disciples must give them all up: wealth, family, and their dominant place in the hierarchy. Even the more distant follower who retains spouse and family must give up the rights of ownership and domination over them. The family is stripped of its unquestioned centrality in the culture and in the lives of its members, while the adult males who follow Jesus are deprived of the status they had enjoyed as heads of such families. All this is
done "for my sake and the sake of the gospel" (10:29). (Countryman, p. 181)
The man might have responded affirmatively to Jesus. He could have given away all of his
possessions and still remain fundamentally unchanged. What Jesus asked this man to do was not simply to abandon his goods, but to use them for good, in the service of God--to help the poor. (Best, Mark: The Gospel as Story, p. 84) Indeed, "the gift to the poor is portrayed as virtually equivalent to the cause of the gospel ." (Ringe, p. 61) And yet, Jesus wanted a more fundamental and radical change in the man--the "giving away" of his self-interest. For ultimately what the young man cannot do is allow himself to be vulnerable before God. "Come and follow me," Jesus says, and the young ruler knows full well what this implies. To give up possessions is not enough. To care about the poor and the dispossessed is not enough. What is required is that we stand before God stripped of our wealth, of our pride, of our self-assurance, and of our own attempts to answer the question, "What must I do to be saved." (Randall R. Lee, "Preaching Helps", Currents in Theology and Mission, July 1985, Vol. 12, No. 4, p. 54) Perhaps the man could have continued to use his wealth, using it for the sake of others, for the sake of the poor, but using it for their benefit, not his own, i.e., as a means of "earning" eternal life. This story raises all sorts of issues regarding wealth (of course, "wealth" is always a relative term, relative to whom and how we compare our wealth). Is money automatically the root of all evils, or is it the "love" of money (cf. 1 Tim. 6:10)? Still, doesn't wealth almost automatically lure us and woo us into an attachment? Wealth is not only the only attachment which threatens our loyalty to God and our willingness to go whenever and wherever God sends
us (10:24). But wealth is a particularly great threat, and it also represents whatever gets in the way, whatever must be given up in order to follow Jesus. So, the desire of Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof" ("If I were a rich man . . . ), the desire common to us all (or nearly so), represents a risk. Wealth affords possibilities, possibilities for doing many good things (such as Tevye imagined), but the risk of attachment is great. With the wealth comes the illusion of selfsufficiency.
With wealth comes the delusion that we can control, that we can master our own fate. If we are in charge, then there is no need to follow the way, no need to trust God, no need to give thanks.
Does this mean that we must renounce possessing worldly wealth and take vows of poverty (certainly this text has taken its institutional form in the vow of poverty prescribed by certain religious orders)? Is the eschaton so near that we should sell all that we have a set up camp on a hillside, waiting for our Lord's return? What does this text say to those of us with pension plans, savings and checking accounts, certificates of deposit, insurance, Social Security, mutual funds, etc.? If it is not prescribing a vow of poverty, is it then saying something about the poverty of wealth? How do we apply the story and the teaching to our own lives? Does one "size," one interpretation, fit all? Will we come up with a neat, well-defined answer, a new security prop, or is this a perennial issue with which we must struggle along the way? "If this message does not take our breath away, if we are not shocked, appalled, grieved, or amazed, we have either not yet heard it or heard it so often that we do not really hear it any more" (Williamson, p. 188). The parable-proverb of the camel and the needle's eye says it so well, but never so simply that we can assure ourselves that we've got it all figured out. Our Lord's ironic pun emphasizes the difficult of people loaded down with real estate, smothered under stocks and bonds, burdened with burglar alarms and the fear of losing possessions. "How hard it is . . . how hard it is . . ." "He means," writes Calvin, "that the rich are too swollen with pride and confidence to let themselves be reduced to the narrow straits in which God contains them." (William J. Carl III, p. 284)
Discipleship is costly. Again and again that is the message of this central section of Mark's Gospel, as Jesus journeys to Jerusalem. Discipleship is costly. It costs whatever stands in the way between me and "Follow me." Even in Jesus' words of reassurance to Peter and the other disciples there is the news of "persecutions." In this life, in this place and time, even though the time is "right," the Good News comes with "persecutions." Yet, for those who dare to place themselves in the hands of God [cf. Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers, July 21, 1944], that is, who dare to follow the way of God, there is life, full life, eternal life, life in the joy of community. The Cost of Discipleship, however radical and demanding, includes a promise of Life Together. Even if discipleship could mean leaving family or being "divorced" from family, nonetheless, God gives us a new family (10:30). Paradoxically, to renounce all is to be given all. Those who have renounced property (10:29) are contrasted with the rich man, for they have been given so much, including the gift of one another. It is worth noting that the "father" left in v. 29 is not included in the list of relationships in v. 30. In the new community human relationships are "saved," made whole and healthy, with God alone as our Father. This marks the end of the traditional patriarchy and other forms of human authoritarianism. This marks the fulfillment of relationships based upon grace and mercy, love and kindness, giving and receiving, sharing and fellowship, mutual participation and responsibility, forgiveness and acceptance. (cf. Via, pp. 146-154) "By the grace of God, we are participants in the impossible possibility" (Rogers, Pentecost 3, p. 23). 4.
Bibliography: Mark 10:17-27 (28-30) (31)
Carl, William J., III. "Mark 10:17-27 (28-31)" Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology, July 1979, Vol. 33, No. 3, pp. 283-288.
Hengel, Martin. Property and Riches in the Early Church: Aspects of a Social History of Early Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974).
Pilgrim, Walter E. Good News to the Poor: Wealth and Poverty in Luke-Acts (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1981).
Ringe, Sharon H. Jesus, Liberation, and the Biblical Jubilee: Images for Ethics and Christology
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985).
Rogers, John B., Jr. Pentecost 3, Proclamation 3: Aids for Interpreting the Lessons of the Church Year, ed. Elizabeth Achtemeier (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985).
5. Hymn Suggestions: Mark 10:17-27 (28-30) (31) - LBW Hymns
97 "Christ, the Life of All the Living"
187 "Dearest Jesus, We Are Here"
194 "All Who Believe and Are Baptized"
220 "O Jesus, Blessed Lord"
248 "Dearest Jesus, at Your Word"
321 "The Day is Surely Drawing Near"
325 "Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart"
326 "My Heart Is Longing"
333 "Lord, Take My Hand and Lead Me"
341 "Jesus, Still Lead On"
364 "Son of God, Eternal Savior"
366 "Lord of Our Life"
374 "We All Believe in One True God"
395 "I Trust, O Christ, in You Alone"
399 "We Are the Lord's"
406 "Take My Life, that I May Be"
408 "God, Whose Giving Knows No Ending"
410 "We Give Thee but Thine Own"
413 "Father Eternal, Ruler of Creation"
416 "O God of Every Nation"
436 "All Who Love and Serve Your City"
440 "Christians, While on Earth Abiding"
465 "Evening and Morning"
494 "Jesus Calls us; O'er the Tumult"
498 "All Who Would Valiant Be"
501 "He Leadeth Me: Oh, Blessed Thought!"
503 "O Jesus, I Have Promised"
Exegete: Rev. Glenn C. Petersen, Anchorage, AK
Ed. Nota Bene - I have had several thousand students of all ages going back to my first teaching in 1965 up until now. During those years, one who stands out most was a “Parish Associate” of mine from Yale Divinity School, Glenn C. Peterson. What follows is borrowed from his current parish website:
Pastor Glenn was born in Glendale, California, in a hospital long ago torn down. Second in a family of four, he was raised in the Lutheran church, among the “sober Danes,” but still having plenty of fun along the way. Since a child, he has loved to sing the songs of the church, and has written a few tunes himself.
In 1967, Glenn left the sunny climes of San Fernando Valley for St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota. First planning to study chemistry, he switched to philosophy and U.S. history, graduating in 1971. While considering what to do with his life, he applied his B.A. degree at the Malt-O-Meal factory in Northfield. In 1972, he began studies at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA, receiving an M.A. in systematic and philosophical theology in 1974. In 1973, in Spokane, Washington, Glenn married Carol Rowberg, a fellow ‘Ole.’ In 1974, they transported themselves to New Haven, Connecticut, where Glenn studied at Yale Divinity School, receiving a divinity degree in 1976 and Carol worked at the Yale Medical School. More than once, Glenn has been heard to say, “I went to school by the sweat of my Frau.” After a year of internship in Fountain Valley, CA (Orange County), in 1977 Glenn was called and ordained to serve as a pastor of the Lutheran church.
Since serving as associate pastor of King of Glory (1977-1981), Glenn has served as pastor of Holy Trinity, Fremont, CA (1981-1991) and Peace in Colfax, WA (1991-2007), leaving for Central Lutheran, Anchorage, when Glenn was called to serve as senior pastor.
Glenn and Carol have three children: Hans, Thea and Carl. Hans, a graduate of Oberlin College, is in the midst of divinity studies at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. Thea, a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University and University of Washington School of Medicine, is in her second year of family practice residency in Billings, Montana. Carl, also a PLU graduate, is in Los Angeles, working as an actor and also for a Lutheran church. Carol, by the way, besides being wife, mother, and homemaker, has worked for years as a micro-biologist.
Glenn and Carol love their families, their children, opportunities to enjoy the arts (especially choral music), and the great outdoors (hiking, backpacking, x-country skiing).
Glenn sings tenor with the church choir and bass with Alaska Chamber Singers. He enjoys watching movies, listening to music and public radio news, reading a novel occasionally and tries to keep up with various theological journals and books.
His favorite theologians are [still] Søren Kierkegaard and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (both deceased), Walter Brueggemann and Douglas John Hall (both living). Glenn’s study/office is usually a mess.
Pastor Glenn thinks that the church is called to serve as the body of Christ in this world, to make a difference for Christ’s sake! We must not take Christ or the faith or the church for granted. When we confess that we believe in Christ Jesus, then our lives are to become shaped by the Word of God, by the cross and by the habit and comm.-
itment of worship and praise. The church is
not a religious social club nor an institution
for our children to be taught polite Christian
etiquette. At Central Lutheran, we proclaim
that Jesus is Lord! We listen to Jesus, love Jesus,
follow Jesus, and endeavor to live our lives
in this world as Jesus leads us.
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Dartmouth, Massachusetts 02747