Some days I feel more like an old dog than others.  Recently I met one of our neighbors I often see walking in the morning.  When he told me he was 80 years old, I felt young.  Then he told me that he had been retired for 20 years, and suddenly I felt much more like one of the “old dogs”.

Through a generous grant from the STL Foundation, TV screens are in the process of being added to our sanctuary (along with some equipment to update/improve our on-line worship presence).  Part of me is looking forward to using these screens to enhance our worship experience at STL.  However, there is another part of me that is seriously wondering how many new “video tricks” this old dog can learn.  I guess time will tell.  All I know is without a great team around me, all the congregation would likely see from me is a blank screen – or perhaps one of those old test patterns!

Podcasts are all the rage these days – have been, I know, for quite some time.  I have listened to a few but am nowhere near a regular user.  I am the same way with another newfangled thing called YouTube.  However, in an effort to “get the word OUT” (one of STL’s Core values) to a broader, or perhaps different, audience, I am now recording a series of podcasts entitled “The Great Sending”.  Season one, all seven episodes, is ready for release.  Season two is recorded.  The plan is to have four additional seasons follow.  And believe it or not, a second series is in the planning stages. So, I hope you are curious enough to go to:

As I am thinking about this, though, this old dog was just reminded that a couple years ago he recorded his first podcast series, “Faith Connection.”  This is still available through the STL website.  I cannot remember how many episodes there were – I’ll guess ten – but it was recorded to provide a basic introduction to or review of the Christian Faith.  The format followed what we used to do in one-day mini-retreats of the same title.

A few months ago, the Board of Elders gave me permission to do something totally new to me – a FaceTime baptism!  Members of a family that has deep roots with STL are now living in Georgia.  Unable to find a Lutheran church in their area, they contacted me about baptizing their child.  As I introduced the idea to the elders, their immediate response was to reference the catechism stating that anyone can baptize, and that it is the word that makes it a baptism.  They also liked how this supported their connection to STL.  So, this past Sunday afternoon we did it … I did the talking … they held the baby and splashed the water.  Just another little God@Work kind of story.

I don’t know if it’s permissible to refer to our God as an “old dog” – though he has been around longer than time.  What I do know is that he is continually working on “new tricks” to connect the good news of Jesus to different people, generations, lives, and backgrounds.  Podcasts, screens, and FaceTime are just a few of the new tricks – which are already old tricks for many.  Since Covid we have expanded our online worship family, added drive-up communion, and started using multiple videos to assist in teaching the faith (Some Sunday in the new year you should visit our CrossTraining for Youth).  This leaves me just wondering what “new tricks” this “old dog” of a God has in mind for the future … for one thing will never change, that is “the Son of Man coming to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19.10)

For we know that, “When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of ternal life.  This saying is trustworthy.” (Titus 3.4-8)

The power of the Gospel to save will never change, which is one reason why my email signature includes “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10.17) Whether that hearing takes place in the ears of an infant via FaceTime, from podcast, video, or a live voice in someone a little bit (or much) older, it does not matter to me.  That’s why we are always getting that Word OUT.  And that’s why there are always some blue letters in this weekly email.  Stories are fun and interesting, but that’s not where the truly significant action takes place.  And that, while perhaps not really a trick, is something this “old dog” learned long ago.

Old Dog … New Tricks