SHARING OUR ENCOURAGE GIVERS……….Last week I talked about the special people God places in our lives to encourage us.  These people have gone out of their way to make us feel like insiders in God’s kingdom.  They have listened to us.  They have prayed with us.  They have shown compassion and dedication to us.  I then asked the question in my message, “Who has done this for you?”

After the service, someone approached me with a question, “Pastor, thank you for the message. I just wish that we could have had 5 minutes in worship so that people could share and give thanks verbally for those special people who have encouraged us.”  I thought that this was a great idea.

This Sunday is a special one in that it is Mother’s Day.  Happy Mother’s Day!  Our children and youth will be leading us in worship in various ways.  We will also have a short time devoted in our worship for giving thanks to those special people who have personally encouraged us.  It could be a grandfather.  It could be daughter.  It could be a friend.  It could be a mother. To get us thinking about those who have the encouraged us, I share a helpful note on mothering:

Acknowledge the wide continuum of mothering.

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you.

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you.

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you.

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you.

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things; we don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you.  To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you.

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you.

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you.

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience.

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst.

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be.

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths.

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren – yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you.

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you.

To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart.

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you.

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

Dr. Gerald Kieschnick, former President of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod.


MEN’S BREAKFAST………..It is this Saturday, 8:30 am, at Peace.  A special thank you to those who are preparing the meal.  There will be plenty to go around.  Our topic will be practical living in times of scarcity.  What does the Bible have to say about living in times of scarcity?  We have chosen the topic in light of the water shortage in California and the potential challenges it may bring.  Bring a friend!

ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL…….Below is the Wired Word discussion for Sunday.  Our discussion begins at 9:45.  Thanks for reading ahead of time and for your contributions to discussion!

Abercrombie Dials Back Sex-Tinged Marketing

In the News

Abercrombie & Fitch, which until recent years was the go-to clothing retailer for teens and college-age people, is toning down its sexualized marketing and changing its policy of hiring only good-looking in-store employees. The employees, whom A&F had called “models,” will now be titled “brand representatives.” And the actual models in A&F ads — until recently, often shirtless boys with ripped abs or girls partially topless — will now have shirts on.

The changes, set to be in place by July, do not appear to be because someone high up in the company had a crisis of conscience, but because the sex-tinged approach (some observers referred to it as “soft-core pornography”) stopped working. Young people once flocked to Abercrombie stores, where they paid full retail prices for ripped jeans and other trendy garb, all emblazoned with A&F’s logo. These days, however, A&F’s target clientele is shopping at fast-fashion chains such as Forever 21 and H&M that feature inexpensive clothing without prominent logos.

Sales at A&F stores have dropped in five of the past seven years, and current profits are plummeting.

Beyond using sex-charged marketing, A&F had set a tone about personal appearance that many young people don’t match, sometimes to their despair. Abercrombie’s clerk-“models” were all trim and physically attractive (one news article referred to them as “clones”). Until about a year ago, the stores didn’t offer any women’s clothes bigger than a size 10.

Alexandra Corning, director of the Body Image and Eating Disorder Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame, said that the image A&F had pushed contributes to “body dissatisfaction” and self-esteem issues for some young people, which can lead to eating disorders.

Commenting on the collapse of A&F’s profits, Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said, “Those who live by a code of physical attractiveness will die by a code of physical attractiveness; those who try to build a marketing empire and a public relations momentum when it comes to highly sexualized images will eventually die by those highly sexualized images; trying to separate the good [and] the beautiful and the true as pornography always does, … eventually … falls apart.”

Corning, however, is looking ahead and hopes that the changes Abercrombie is making will help its sales so that other retailers will take a similar course. “I would praise their advertising decision regardless of their motives,” she said. “Less bombardment by these kinds of images in the malls and online is better, healthwise, for everyone.”

For this TWW lesson, we are not talking about pornography per se, though that certainly contributes to the overall sexualized tone of our times. Rather we are talking about that tone, which pervades the culture and comes at everyone in the society, even people who scrupulously avoid pornography. These two definitions (from Wikipedia) may be helpful in our discussion:

Sexualization is to make something sexual in character or quality, or to become aware of sexuality, especially in relation to men and women. Sexualization is linked to sexual objectification.

Sexual objectification is the act of treating a person as an instrument of sexual pleasure. Objectification more broadly means treating a person as a commodity or an object, without regard to their personality or dignity. Objectification is most commonly examined at the level of a society, but can also refer to the behavior of individuals.

Thus, we are not talking about mere sexual attractiveness — something God created for good — but seeking or receiving sexual pleasure without regard to the context of God’s gift of sex.

More on this story can be found at these links:

Abercrombie & Fitch Takes a New Tack: Toning It Down. Pilot Online
To Lure Back Young Shoppers, Abercrombie Puts On a Shirt. New York Times
The Aging of Abercrombie & Fitch. Bloomberg
Transcript: The Briefing 04-30-15 (see item #2, regarding Abercrombie). Albert Mohler

The Big Questions

  1. Read the two definitions at the end of the “In the News” section above. What are some ways sexualization and sexual objectification seem most prevalent in our society today? Do you judge those ways to be helpful, harmful or somewhere between those extremes? Why?
  2. Since, short of withdrawing from our culture, we cannot avoid the sexualized atmosphere of our times, how should Christians operate within that atmosphere?
  3. What should we be teaching our children and grandchildren about the sexualized messages and images around us?
  4. What is the Bible’s view of sex? In what ways is that different from the view(s) implied in the general sexualization of our society?