Saturday, August 18, 2007

Earlier Communion Age

Luther said something somewhere about how staying away from the Supper causes us to grow cold to it. The practice within our church body (LCMS) for quite a few decades has been to offer the rite of confirmation at the end of eighth grade, associating it very closely with an age typically considered to be a "graduation." Most people interpret this (quite unfortunately) as giving the "reward" of the Supper to those who have "passed the test" for confirmation class, to those who have attained a certain level of maturity or cognition.

Some pastors see how harmful it is for people to draw the conclusion that they earn the right to commune by going through a certain set of theological coursework. These pastors also desire to feed Jesus' lambs who are under their care and who are asking to partake. They realize how easy it is for people to draw the conclusion that the Supper must not really be too terribly important. After all, if they tell me I can get by without it just dandy for 14 years or more, why should I believe what they say about the Supper's importance when they've been teaching me all along (by their actions) that I don't really need it?

Pastor Stuckwisch has a lovely piece about a first communion tomorrow for one of his sheep. Because of some typical objections, Pr Stuckwisch and Pr Grobien make some additional comments on the topic elsewhere.

As a mother, I have been at a loss to explain to my children why they couldn't commune. The rule here (among others) is that children must be able to say the six chief parts of the catechism. My youngest had a much harder time with that than the others. I don't suppose it did her any harm to memorize the words. But she didn't understand them like I would've wished, and that made it harder for her to commit the words to memory. The struggle to accomplish the task did not increase her worthiness to commune. Children (or retarded adults .... or even bright adults, for that matter) are worthy because of what Jesus has done for them, and they have faith in the words "given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins." When they are under the care of the pastor in that place, being shaped by his teaching, saying "amen" to it and desiring to hear more and more, barring them from the Sacrament for years will teach them to despise it.


While bopping around the internet today, trying to find extra math drill for a child on ratios and proportions, I bumped into an article on the benefits of sunlight, as well as links for more information on how sunlight prevents cancer, not causes it. Helpful reading!

No Swimming

I took Mags to the beach yesterday even though I thought it was kinda chilly. But even SHE doesn't want to go today: it's 63. It's mid-August. It's 63. Dinner today is Bubble-n-Squeak because it's something cozy warm. We're also finally getting around to eating Katie's birthday cake because we needed something in the oven to warm the house. (At least Katie made her own cake at her place, and Rachel had her shot at the birthday cake last week too. Thanks to Sandy's sister, we have a mega-zuke to shred and make into cake!)

It's been raining almost daily for a week and a half. The load of rain started with 7" in a day. (That day there was significantly more rain a little south of here.) Things have greened up considerably. April showers bring May flowers. August floods and showers and rains make the grass grow like gangbusters. You don't expect to have to mow twice a week this time of year!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Grocery Prices

I love my grocery store. I love the way Woodmans was run when Mr Woodman was still alive. And from a customer's perspective, it hasn't gone downhill since he died a few years ago. Any time we go visiting elsewhere, I am thankful for Mr Woodman.

When Katie and Nathan moved to Fort Wayne, we made a trip to the grocery store to fill the cupboards and fridge. I gasped at the prices. They gasped at the prices. They were thrilled with the low prices at Walmart. I was horrified at the high prices at Walmart. Same prices, doncha know....

One of the stores in our county had some super-duper ultra-low-price wonderful coupons that they mailed out recently, trying to draw people into the market that is now under new management. I saw the prices on the coupons and thought they were acceptable. Stopped by today while I was in town to grab 3# of brats for $7. Not cheap, but an okay price. Do you know what they charge normally? Four dollars a pound! Same for the chicken breasts that I splurged on. They advertised 2.75# for $7, but it turned out that it was only 2.38#. (That business of switching prices from the coupon to the reality, or from the shelf to the check-out lane, has bugged me before. It's illegal. And it does nothing to engender customer satisfaction. Especially when they are totally nonplussed when you point it out to them.)

This summer I started noticing prices at other grocery stores. I think we would have to increase our grocery budget by $300 per month if we lived somewhere where Woodmans was unavailable. Wikipedia lists the cities in Wisconsin and northern Illinois where there are currently Woodmans markets. But don't let the Wiki post scare you away: I almost always find the quality of produce, meat, and dairy to be superior to the local "regular" grocery stores.


Barbara linked to a YouTube video on finances. It was a hilarious Steve Martin skit. Only two minutes. But as funny as it is, it's the best financial advice anybody could ever come across!


Pr Weedon had a post yesterday that I loved. I have been scolded for thinking too highly of justification. But in his post, Pr Weedon noted the difference between preaching about justification and preaching justification.


In late June, I started smelling that lovely, spicy perfume again. Most flowers smell sweet, but there's that one time of year when the countryside is full of that spicy smell. I was never sure what it was. But I did note this year that that was about the time the chicory had started blooming, and the only other thing out right then was the sweet clover. About a week later, the red clover and the Queen Anne's lace started blooming too.

Today the county mowers made their semi-annual trek down the highway, laying waste the "weeds" that grow up alongside the road. And the wonderful spicy smell was back temporarily. It must be the chicory. Thing is, sniffing a chicory flower doesn't seem to have that same wonderful odor. So I'm not sure whether I've got the right plant pegged for the perfume, or if it's just that so many thousands of them blooming at the same time makes for a smell that can't be detected when you've got your nose stuck into ONE bloom.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

2 Down, 1 to Go

Rachel got a job. Shall we say "hooray, with reservations"?

Pink Eye

I woke up this morning with the worst case of pink-eye I've had in over a decade. Now that I look back, I realize I had a few minor symptoms yesterday and the day before, but didn't notice them to do anything about it.

This morning I started with our regular pink-eye treatment: wash your hands well about every 30-45 minutes, and then spend about a minute totally sloshing and dousing the eyeball with fresh running water. It didn't seem to be helping as much as usual. So I tried something new: garlic the Wonder Cure.

I cut a slab of raw garlic and taped it onto my bottom eyelid. Since the skin is very thin there, I put a very thin layer of vaseline on my eyelid first, so as to decrease the burn of the garlic. And it did feel mighty hot! After an hour, I washed my eyes again and used a band-aid to attach another slab of fresh raw garlic. Now I'm seeing some improvement in the pinkness, swelling, and goopiness. Hooary for garlic!


Yesterday we spent a great day with my parents and sibs and the cousins. Mom brought a picnic lunch for us all (what a treat!) and we did a little hiking and a lot of talking. Well, there were some of us who did a lot of hiking....

My folks also shared some of their garden bounty with us. We had our first corn-on-the-cob of the summer. And oh my goodness, it's delicious! Butter and salt and pepper on hot corn. With tomato and cheese sandwiches! What could be yummier?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Noah Saved

The end of 1 Peter 3 tells us that Noah and his family were "saved through water." This confused me for a long time. Okay, so the ark floated on the water, and so the water saved them from the devestation caused by the Flood. But if the Flood and its destruction hadn't happened in the first place, then the water that saved them wouldn't have been there. And thus no need to be saved.

But from different things said in Bible class and sermons over the last year or two, I've started to catch on to something else. (Maybe this is incredibly obvious to most people, but it sure wasn't to me!) The water that saved Noah wasn't saving him from the flood waters. The water that saved Noah was saving him from the evils of the society in which he lived, saving him from the false doctrine being preached everywhere around him, saving him from dangers greater than drowning.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I totally wrote off last week as far as math, spelling, history, or housework. All I planned was to get meals on the table (that included one grocery-run), take Maggie to the beach for a little while daily (30-90 minutes), and go to "VBS" (from about 4:30 to 10:00 by the time the driving and socializing was factored in). We managed that, and not much else! Now I need to catch up on laundry; I only got a few loads done during the week.

VBS was held in the morning for the kids. They worked on memorizing the Lord's Prayer section of the catechism. They studied Bible stories from Holy Week with regard to Jesus' prayers. They learned more of the liturgy by heart, so they'd be able to pray along during Sunday services. Even if I had been able to drive my kids for the morning sessions, they were too old to attend that part anyway. So we just heard about that from some of the older kids who were helping.

The sessions in the evenings were for everybody: one child yet to be born, toddlers and preschoolers, right on up to the senior citizens, including one dear man who was ordained more than 60 years ago.

Each day the prayer retreat started with Evening Prayer. I appreciated my boys' observation that it's awfully hard to SAY the Phos Hilaron (instead of chant it). After prayers, we all ate. Then we prayed the order found in Congregation at Prayer, including Psalm 51, a passage from 1 Cor 10, the Sixth Petition of the Lord's Prayer, What Is the World to Me?, and consecutive readings each night from Acts. Then Pastor had some lecture and some discussion on prayer, and why we pray, and what we pray for, and prayer habits, and the salutary use of prayer books, and some misconceptions about prayer, and looking at some Bible passages on Jesus' prayer life and what He taught His disciples about prayer. When the evening was nearly done, we prayed Compline together.

At the end of the week, Pastor asked for any reflections on all this praying we'd been doing throughout the week. My thought was "Where do I sign up for the family-friendly monastery?" I didn't want the week to be done already. I wonder if it would be possible to have the discipline and the time to fit all that prayer and meditation into daily life. Or is that why a retreat is a retreat: being away from the regular hub-bub of life ... and math books?

General Prayer

It was once common for Christians to pray together, in their churches, each week (or even each day), for many needs of their communities, nation, and the Church. In the general prayer, the Church prays for the preaching of the Word, for mercy, for pastors, for the President and Congress, for temporal justice and temporal peace, for our enemies, for those who are sick and dying, for those who are oppressed, for the poor, for freedom from calamity and poor weather, for safety for those who travel, for schools, for widows and orphans, for our own ability to work and serve our neighbors, and so much more.

Most churches don't do that any more. We want prayers that are more "relevant." We want to pray for the things we notice, for the things we feel, for the things that we worry about. Now, don't get me wrong: there's certainly nothing wrong with praying for those specific things. It is good to pray for our shut-ins and those who are sick in the congregation. It may be good to pray for rain for your own garden, but better to pray for "seasonable weather" for the whole congregation, as Bob's garden may've been thoroughly doused last night.

But the General Prayer is still a good thing. It addresses a multitude of needs and situations that we might not think to pray for. It addresses the needs of all the sick, not just Grandma Meier. It asks for God's benevolence toward all widows, not just for my college roommate who was widowed at a young age. It causes us to pray for the judges and policemen who keep anarchy at bay so that we may live quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and holiness.

Have you noticed that, as churches have moved away from the general prayer during Sunday services, society has gone downhill? I'm not saying that there's a cause-and-effect relationship. I'm not saying that, nationwide, politeness and courtesy would be magically improved, and crime magically decreased, and employees magically becoming hard-working, if only more congregations would pray the general prayer. But it's interesting to think about how vast numbers of people were led to pray for the needs of strangers, if only doing so for five minutes on Sunday morning when led by their pastors. And now they don't pray for such things because we have more "relevant" and "personal" needs to ask God about.

Maybe there was some real wisdom in the ancient liturgy of the Church.


Genetics and pre-natal testing are often discussed among mothers of special-needs kids. I heard a recent conversation about the dangers of amniocentesis. Is it dangerous to the mother? Is there a risk of miscarriage? How can we lessen the likelihood of problems resulting from the test? Are the risks worth the benefits of the test?

And thereupon followed a nice, scientific, comforting discussion of how the risks are not that great, and it's worth it to have the peace of mind that comes from finding out your fetus is not afflicted with the same malady as your older child.

Not dangerous? Balderdash! Among this group of women, the whole point of amniocentesis is to KILL "defective" children! That's why people are taking the test. It may not be dangerous to the mother to have the test. It may not be dangerous to the child (assuming the child measures up to proper standards of genetic purity). But that test brings DEATH to the child who doesn't measure up.

Is it dangerous? Good grief. Death by torturous dismemberment, and burial by being sucked into a vacuum and tossed in the hazardous-waste pile. And people ask, "Is it dangerous?"