Saturday, April 07, 2007


The two best services of the year are last night's and tonight's.

Behold the life-giving cross,
on which hung the salvation of the whole world.
Oh, come, let us worship Him.

Oh, how wonderful and beyond all telling
is Your mercy toward us, O God,
that to redeem a slave
You gave Your Son.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Forgiveness of Sins

Some of my friends say that justification not all-important. They think there are other things we need to talk about; they seem to agree with the paper Art Just presented at the 2006 symposium (which can be found at the seminary's website.) While working at church last week, I found some Lenten sermon series that Dr Korby was involved with during his years at Valparaiso. The sermon preached by David G Truemper on 4 April 1979 (Wednesday of Lent 6) was the last in a series of sermons on the Six Chief Parts. One of the concluding paragraphs follows.

Recently a fellow theologian took me to task for making so much of the forgiveness of sins. "There's just more to it than that!" he insisted. He had pretty good sense, for it would be a terrible oversimplification to see the Lord's Supper as the forgiveness of sins -- unless we can come to see that the forgiveness of sin IS the whole of the Christian life. And that is precisely what we may come to see. The mystery of our redemption is that our sin is forgiven, our enmity with God is changed to peace and love. The presence of Christ, crucified and risen, is the confirmation of His word, "Cheer up! Your sin is forgiven!" The communion in His body and blood is our share in what He gave His body for, in what He shed His blood for -- "for you, for the forgiveness of sins." The Eucharist or thanksgiving is the celebration of thanks for our redemption. The sacrifice is always only His, in us and through us and for us. As Luther put it, we offer Christ when we plead His merits as the grounds for the Father's forgiveness, and thus when He offers us to His Father as those washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. All is forgiveness, and forgiveness is all.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


A lot of confessional folks advocate fasting for Lent. Sounds like a nice idea in theory. But I can't imagine how it would play out in real life for a family. When a huge part of a mommy's time is spent in meal preparation for growing children, how does that work for fasting? I know that according to the "rules," children and pregnant women are not to fast. But when you've got bottomless pits to fill (aka: teenage boys), a lot of time is spent cooking. Maybe I'm just hopelessly short on self-discipline, but I cannot imagine chopping and cooking and stewing and baking, and smelling those delicious smells wafting through the house, setting food before my family, and then not eating it.

I had to do that last week one day because the doctor needed me to fast for some tests. That was awful to have to do my job of cooking and then walk away.

But even if I could do that, then what becomes of family mealtime during times of fasting? If you're not eating, then the family is not gathering at the table to talk each day either. I guess I just can't picture how this would work unless it were a situation where a person (or maybe a couple) normally ate alone, so there was not so much family "fellowship" to forego.

A New Commandment

This morning at Matins, we were reading and discussing tonight's Gospel (John 13). Kantor wondered why Jesus said it was a "new" command that we should love one another. After all, even in the Old Testament the law was summarized by loving God and loving the neighbor.

Pastor responded that the newness is in the fulfillment of the law. All the things in the Old Testament pointed forward to Christ's death on the cross. In His death is where all things are made new.

We wondered too if the newness had something to do with the pastors no longer sacrificing sheep and goats as in the Old Testament, but instead being willing to sacrifice themselves, laying down their lives as their bore the burden of preaching about the One who laid down His life for atonement for sin. Pastor was not opposed to that thought either. But mostly he wanted to make the connection of the "New Commandment" tonight to tomorrow's epistle (the end of 2 Corinthians 5).

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


When I was in kindergarten I learned:
Summer is when it's hot, things are growing in your garden, and you get to go swimming.
Fall is when it's no longer so hot, leaves are falling from the trees, and when we pick apples and carve jack-o-lanterns.
Winter is when it's cold, and we go sledding in the snow.
Spring is when it's warm, and the flowers are blooming, and the birds sing and build nests and have baby birds.

Either the people who write these books live in California and Tennessee, or they hibernate through March and April, only to awake to see the part of spring that occurs in May.

Real spring is mud in prelude to green grass. Real spring is crazy weather changes. Forty degree fluctuations in temperature during winter will take you from -15 to +25, all of it cold. Forty degree fluctuations in temperature during summer will take you from 60 to 100, all of it warm. But forty degree fluctuations in spring takes you from 35-degree coat weather to 75-degrees for t-shirts and shorts.

Real spring means enjoying a 70-degree Monday and putting pork chops on the grill, enjoying a 60-degree Tuesday and putting hamburgers on the grill, and then going out on Wednesday to jog in snow flurries while the windchill makes it feel like 5 degrees outside.

Can't wait till May.
Can't wait till May.
Can't wait till May.

At least the sun is up for more than 12 hours a day!

Day Care Study

Probably lots of us heard the big news from last week about the study on day care. The story reported: "Youngsters who had quality child care before kindergarten had better vocabulary scores by fifth grade, but the more time they spent in child care, the more likely their sixth grade teachers were to report problem behaviors." The media takes care to report that the behavior problems are not large, and they are not anything for parents to worry about.

But did you notice what was considered day care? The article mentions, "In the study, child care was defined as care by anyone other than the child's mother who was regularly scheduled for at least 10 hours per week." Anyone other than the child's mother? Even for 10 or 12 hours a week? That means if Grandma is scheduled to watch the child for 2-3 hours a day, that's considered day care. If DADDY is with his kids for 2-3 hours a day on a regularly scheduled basis, that counts as "day care" in this study.

Interestingly enough, Saturday's follow-up article mentioned that "the study’s lead author, Jay Belsky, is no stranger to controversy. He says he was vilified for an article he wrote in 1986, saying there was 'slow and steady' evidence that non-parental child care, no matter the quality, could lead to developmental problems. Critics called him an ideologue."

When you do sociological research, you have a whole bunch of raw data. What does all that data mean? How can it be put together to make sense to anyone, to show trends, to show differences between groups? First thing to do is to make the groupings, to decide which individual pieces of information are lumped into a "group."

The study's author chose to call it "day care" when anyone other than the mom watched the kids. And still the study showed a difference in behavior!

What would've been the results of the study had the researchers lumped together kids who were A) cared for by a close relative, versus B) kids who were cared for by non-family? In other words, if Munchkin stays with Dad while Mom works, that wouldn't have been considered daycare. Likewise if Munchkin stayed with Grandma.

What would've been the results of the study had the researchers lumped together kids in A) family settings such as a child with a neighbor who watches only the kids from that one family, versus B) a day-care center where there are several babysitters and many many children coming and going throughout the day?

The lead author of the study took his lumps twenty years ago when he released information which indicated that day-care was bad for kids. Now he's sitting there again with a pile of data which shows how harmful day-care is to kids. But he doesn't want to be vilified again. Parents don't want to hear the results of a study that show day-care is bad for kids. Big corporations and the government don't want evidence that day-care is bad for kids. So what to do? What to do? Ah ha! I know what to do! We'll rig the groupings in this research. If we include in the "Day Care Group"
-- the kids who have stay-at-home dads,
-- the kids who stay with Aunt Susie two days a week,
-- the kids who stay with Daddy two evenings a week while Mom waitresses,
-- the kids who stay with Grandma while Mom works full-time, and
-- the kids who stay with the nice neighbor lady who doesn't watch anybody else's kids,
the "Day Care Group" won't really represent the kids in day-care. Any negative characteristics of that group will be toned down by the fact that a lot of kids in the "Day Care Group" weren't really in day care.

So the really big news of this study is NOT that there was a slight difference in behavior between the kids who were in day-care and those who weren't. The big news should be that even with their incredibly restrictive definition of what it means to NOT be in day-care, there was still a difference in behavior between the two groups of kids. The study results would have been vastly different if they had grouped
-- kids at home with family members, versus
-- kids in small home-like day-care settings, versus
-- kids in day-care centers.

That would not have been popular news!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Streets of Rome

Bible class ended late that Sunday 18 years ago.

As it so happens, there must've been something going on in the congregation that I was unaware of. Pastor Wieting had been talking about closed communion a lot, making a case for it. One of the things he'd discussed a few weeks previous was the difference between "closed communion" and "close communion." The term "closed" came from the early church when the pastor would say, "Deacon, the doors! The doors!" That was the time in the Divine Service when all the not-yet-confirmed members would be required to leave. They could not be present for the sacred mysteries found in the Lord's Supper. The doors were closed behind them. They were welcome for the preaching, but shut out of the building during the Eucharist, until they had been baptized and received into membership.

Also, as it so happens, in recent weeks there had been a child abduction less than an hour away. A stranger abduction, not a family quarrel. A little girl nabbed off her bike in the daylight, less than 1/4 mile from home. In a Mayberry-like town not far from our own Mayberry-like village.

As I said, Bible class went a little long that Sunday. I came upstairs to find the doors of the church open, and my children nowhere to be seen. They weren't in their Sunday School rooms. They weren't in the narthex. They weren't in the nursery. And the outside doors were standing wide open. My three children, aged 2-7, were not in the building. Panic grabbed my heart. I soon found them, playing outdoors on a gorgeous sunny morning, unharmed, and unaware of any reason for Mommy to be having the conniptions fits that ensued.

Wait a minute! What did those mommies do in the early church? After all, the non-communicants were put outside the doors of the church during the communion service. The streets of Rome were decidedly less safe than the streets of small-town central Wisconsin ... even with a child-nabber was on the loose. Did they have church-nurseries in Corinth and Ephesus? If so, who was skipping the Lord's Supper to babysit? How did that work? This just didn't make sense.

Within a week or so, we saw friends, one of whom really knows his church history. I asked Pr Eckardt about it. His response was shocking. He told me that the children weren't sent out in the streets unattended, and they weren't sent to the nursery with a babysitter. They were IN there, partaking of the Sacrament with the adults. (Now, don't anybody tell me that Eckardt is in favor of infant communion. He ain't. And back then he wasn't even real keen on the idea of kids younger than 8th grade communing. So this is not a fellow who was revising history to suit his viewpoint.)

This week Pr Weedon's blog included a quote from St Augustine:
Those who say that infancy has nothing in it for Jesus to save, are denying that Christ is Jesus for all believing infants. Those, I repeat, who say that infancy has nothing in it for Jesus to save, are saying nothing else than that for believing infants, infants that is who have been baptized in Christ, Christ the Lord is not Jesus. After all, what is Jesus? Jesus means Savior. Jesus is the Savior. Those whom he doesn't save, having nothing to save in them, well for them he isn't Jesus. Well now, if you can tolerate the idea that Christ is not Jesus for some persons who have been baptized, then I'm not sure your faith can be recognized as according with the sound rule. Yes, they're infants, but they are his members. They're infants, but they receive his sacraments. They are infants, but they share in his table, in order to have life in themselves. (The Works of Saint Augustine, Part III-Sermons 5:261.)

I've been told that, although it is true that infants were sometimes communed in the early church, it was an unusual thing, a rare thing, something that happened only in certain pockets of heterodox practice. But this quote is from Augustine, for crying out loud. Even Augustine says the babies receive the sacraments. Not just the sacrament of baptism. But sacraments, in the plural. The infants "share in His table."

Is it really so hard to recognize that, through most of church history, wee children were communed when they were baptized? I mean, if people want to argue that what they did for 1200 years of church history in the West (and 2000 years in the East) is wrong, that's one thing. But to argue that it didn't happen?

Monday, April 02, 2007


My computer is nearly five years old, and when I bought it, it wasn't a state-of-the-art machine, but one of the el-cheapo models. It's slow. And it's been in the basement, down there in the dark. I've been considering getting a laptop so I can work outside in the sun, or maybe take it to church with me to catalog stuff in the file cabinet. We had figured we'd stop at a computer store while we were in the city yesterday, and look at some possibilities.

But then we heard about Nathan's computer woes while installing Vista. Add that to my aversion to learning anything new on the computer, and my total clutziness and forgetfulness with regard to cyberthings. When I recalled that all the new PCs have Vista, I decided pretty quickly that I was not interested in computer shopping for quite a while yet!

So today my men disassembled my computer components and took them upstairs to the living room. The computer with the educational programs (spelling drill, math drill, typing tutor, etc) was relegated to the basement. Now I can do some of my work up here where there's sunlight and less frigid temperatures.

But it does seem very very weird to go downstairs with a load of clothes for the wash machine, or go put something away in the pantry, and NOT stop to hit "download mail" on the computer as I go past. If I can't expect to learn Vista without significant brain exertion, why should I expect to get used to checking email in a different location without likewise taxing the brain cells?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Dinner Today

Courtesy of our parents who sent checks for Gary's birthday presents, we went out to dinner today with the family. Yummy! Red Lobster! Thanks, Moms and Dads!

We felt really bad about the miscommunication with Katie. We thought we said we'd be leaving home at 12:00, but she thought she was supposed to meet us at the restaurant at 12. She had a very very long wait. And she had to wait by herself because Nathan was unable to attend. (I don't think Nathan could possibly have come up with a better way to put the final nail in the coffin with regard to the phrase "Nathan's not invited???") Cassie and Paul were also unable to attend, so we had only nine of us. But it was a fun group of people. And we had a really fun waiter too.

We set off the bug-bombs before we vacated the house for the afternoon. Came home to find the floors relatively clean of insect corpses. I fear that is not good. Will bug bombs work when the critters are all in hiding due to cold weather? On the first warm day, will we be overrun again?

On a Clear Day

Gary picked up another movie last night. He prevailed upon me to watch for a bit. The kids and I needed to do some schoolwork, but one of my victims students was in the shower. So while we waited for the victim child to arrive in the living room, we figured we could catch the opening scenes and setting of On a Clear Day.

We couldn't stop for something like a mere history book on the Dust Bowl.

It was a good movie. The basic plot was about a man who'd lost his job and didn't know what to do with himself. He decided to swim the English Channel. There were amusing parts and touching parts. At one point in the movie, I just laughed because I wanted to bop several characters upside the head and say, "You people are NOT being as sneaky as you think you are." (Sneaky about leaving a present. Or sneaky about a private dream/goal.) There were parts about dealing with grief and loss, and parts about restoring strained relationships, and parts about forgiveness, and parts about male friendships.

On the whole, I thought it was just a really nice wholesome, sweet movie. I was surprised when Gary pointed out that it's rated PG-13. Then Philip pointed out that there was some "language." I guess he's right. But it's the kind of profanity that has to do with bodily functions, and not the kind that breaks the second commandment. So it didn't register in my brain as the Truly Offensive kind of profanity.

To justify myself with regard to skipping the book on the Dust Bowl, we developed questions and found answers about
- how far it is across the English Channel,
- why there had to be an official observer in the boat,
- where Dover and Calais are,
- why you ought not eat before swimming,
and other things.