It has been quiet around here because things haven’t been quiet elsewhere. We had a lovely white Christmas, apart from the high winds and blowing snow and canceled Christmas Eve service. Sigh. I hated to do that, but it was very dangerous around 4 pm. We are simply not equipped to deal with it in these parts–DOT-wise and common-sense-wise.
A dear member passed away at midnight on Christmas Eve and his funeral is tomorrow. He had suffered a massive stroke sixteen years ago and was not expected to live then. Since then there have countless set-backs, yet he bounced back every time. While the family has been ready for this for over a decade, it still comes as a shock to many of us. God be praised for the mercy He gave Everett. His power was made perfect in weakness.
My friends Ben and Emily Harju and their children were chrismated into the Orthodox Faith Saturday. Congratulations and many years to you. You can read about it on Ben’s blog here. Incidentally, a few of the regular readers here were also involved in the chrismation, as pictured at his site.
Back in my study at Church, taking my good friend Zithromax, feeling like I will live. Since I’m on the mend I will be visiting the hospitals later this morning. It’s been really weighing on me that I have several members I haven’t seen in nearly a week.
I’m blessed this year that my sermon load is somewhat decreased. Last night we enjoyed the Children’s Christmas program, which meant I was able to sit and enjoy it without even offering a welcome or anything. It was very nice. Simple, well-organized, and plenty of solos by the kids. This Sunday is our annual Choir Cantata, so there will not be a worship service as usual. And I’ve got a pastor to fill in for me January 3 when I will be away at a wedding. All said, I have three more sermons to write before Epiphany Day.
I finished my adult education class last night. The majority of the time we spent reading The Spirituality of the Cross: The Way of the First Evangelicals, a quite excellent book outlining what Confessional Lutheranism looks and feels like. I have some minor quibbles with the book as far as his take on Lutheranism and Lutheran doctrine, but all in all, if one wants to get a feel for what the LCMS is/could have been, it’s pretty good.
What worked well about the class is that I intentionally structured it as an information class, not necessarily as a catechetical/membership class. It made the non-Lutheran participants more comfortable and took the pressure off “buying it” and placed it on understanding it.
What didn’t work so well is that now the class is finished, some who wish to become members will need some more pointed instruction to fill in the gaps. Assessing where and what those gaps are will be more difficult, but when I undertake this in January, I’ll report in and tell you how it went.
In more personal news, my voice survived the hour last night, but today I’m not doing so well again. So it’s Matins in about ten minutes if anyone comes, and then the doctor to see what’s ailing me.
My brother in Christ and Circuit neighbor Pr. Brown writes this about the need for devotion and meditation during busy seasons. I couldn’t agree more. At the seminary I heard an anecdote about Luther–the busier he was, the more he prayed and read Scripture. And Brown is correct in that the trick Satan plays is to make us believe we have little–no–time for God’s Word.
Read his post.
In other news, the voice is not-quite-so-silent this morning, but it still sounds like I’ve been channeling Tom Waits while gargling with rocks. And feels like it too. Other symptoms are still present, but I decided to come into church today and work…and only lasted an hour.
So I have been fighting off a cold, and Sunday awoke pretty froggy. Then it got much, much worse as the day wore on. My voice is gone, a nasty cough has arisen, and here I am, reduced to writing and semaphore. Thankfully I enjoy writing, but the semaphore is obnoxious.
Mikayla was sweet yesterday afternoon, making me hot tea with honey, and Eliana was especially cuddly with me, adding to our nighttime prayers a petition that I would get better. This morning her prayer has not been answered yet. I must need more repentance.
So I am at home today and hope to be productive. I only need three more sermons to write until Epiphany, so perhaps I can work on that. I have my church laptop here, so I can even sit in bed while writing. Pretty nice.
Thankfully this voicelessness happened in a week when the Advent service is replaced by the Children’s Christmas Program. I do not have to worry about being able to talk until Sunday–and that is the Choir Cantata, so even that could be worse. Not that I don’t have shut-ins and hospital visits and appointments and Adult Instruction and who knows what else to do this week, but it could be worse, thanks be to God.
In the first Odd Thomas novel by Dean Koontz the character Stormy believes that this life with all of its struggles and hardships is the easy part, the trial run for the adventure, the real battle that is waged in the next. It’s basic training for what will come, she says.
There is truth to that, though not in the way it first appears. The next life will have no sin, no suffering for the redeemed of the Lord. Sorrow and sighing will flee away, Isaiah 35 tells us. With an eye to verses like that, it is impossible to think that this is basic training for the world to come. This is the war, then is the rest. And Scripture speaks this way as well. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Eph 6:12-13 ESV)
Yet…this life is training for what is to come, and our preparation now means everything then. Here we begin to worship the Lord, then we will live in worshipping the Lord. Here we begin to love, there love is made complete and perfect. And refusal now means refusal then. For this life is the beginning of repentance and faith, and if that fails us now, it will fail us then. Our Lord calls us to carry our cross and follow Him now, and if we refuse now, we will refuse then. While there is no sin in Heaven, repentance must continue, for repentance is turning away from ourselves and turning to God in its barest sense; we won’t have new sins to repent of in the next life, but our repentant lives will continue.
I’m trying to get back to more regular blogging again. The remodel continues, but is finally shaping up. Dad is leaving tomorrow leaving us with plenty more to do–but all of it we can handle on our own. It will still be some weeks of nightly staining and finishing doors and drawer fronts, installing hinges, finishing walls, installing trim and kickboards and such. And the floors. The floors. So our traditional Christmas Open House will be an Epiphany Season open house…hopefully.
It has been a real blessing to have Dad and Mother here for the last two weeks, working their tails off for us–especially this last week or so while I’ve been at the hospital and funeral and meetings and emergency calls and many other church obligations. They and Marjorie have done a wonderful job of everything.
And this week: back to regularly scheduled posts here. Thanks for your patience.
This article highlights the “Conservative Bible Translation”–an incredibly stupid, irresponsible perversion of God’s Word. The argument of the project: scholars are liberal for the most part and translate the Bible too much like democrats. So they are going to translate it according to their conservative Republican values.
Avoid this at all cost. Jesus is not a Republican. He’s not a Democrat either. Jesus is Lord.
Jesus was not a “conservative” either, if by that you mean anything like modern American political conservatives. Nor is He a Progressive, Socialist, Communist, Liberal, Whig, radical, reactionary, fundamentalist or any other category we can put Him in.
He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings. His ways are not our ways.
Feasting, renovating, preaching, visiting, studying, translating, preparing, praying. Fathering, husbanding, building, destroying. Changes are being made.
Finishing a novel was not one of them, alas. I finished one last year in November. Have 30000 words of another, and 32000 of this one started November 1, but it wasn’t possible to finish. I have learned, now that I’ve written 110000 words of novel-length fiction what I’m getting better at and what still needs remedial practice. It will get better. It is a lot of fun, especially when the words come and the images are there and I get in the character’s heads and they start doing funky things that I didn’t know they would do.
The kitchen is progressing, though everything takes longer than it should. Such is life. It will be good and beautiful, and Dad is great.
The next post will be in a week or more. I really appreciate all of you who check in regularly!