Saturday, May 10, 2008

Just Read the Book

A pastor has nothing of himself to give. I don't care much whether he's smart or slow, whether he's handsome or ugly, whether he's a great guy or a jerk. I care that he speaks the WORDS which God wants spoken. If he thinks he's got cool things to give us, I'm skeptical. I want him to read the book to me!

When the chaplain makes a hospital visit, he better be using the Pastoral Care Companion. When the pastor teaches Bible study, he better be using psalms and the hymnal for opening devotions, and for the class he better be using the Bible instead of "relevant" stories. When the pastor leads worship, it should be from the hymnal, Agenda, and Altar Book. And he should read all those notes in the Altar Book, the ones that tell you how to conduct a Tenebrae service, or that the Service of Prayer and Preaching is intended for catechetical services, but may be used on Sunday morning if there's no communion. Pastors should take note of the rubrics and obey them. After all, they have nothing to offer their people except what God wants them to have ... and those words are written in the book.

Pastor recently mentioned the missal stand and its placement. In Protestant churches the missal stand is in the center of the altar because the center of worship is understood to be our prayers to God. But in the Lutheran church, the missal stand is supposed to be off to the side so that the center is open. This is because the Sacrament of the Altar takes center place in our churches -- God's gift to us being a higher priority than our prayers to Him. At this point in the class, one of the men (a pastor himself) asked about it. He said that wasn't how it used to be; that wasn't how it was when he got out of sem. But Pastor pointed out that that was what was written in the book even back then.

Too many pastors only look at the pew edition of the hymnal and wing it as to rubrics and ceremony and other aspects of conducting the service. The book (such as the altar book, or the hymnal's handbook) tells you what to do. Your parishioners need you to READ THE BOOK! Read the book yourself to know what to do and how to do it. Read the book so that you are praying the liturgy that has been given by God to the Church through the centuries. Read the book so that you are praying what needs to be said instead of what tumbles out of your own heart and mouth. Please READ THE BOOK!

Wheat Prices

I went to Woodman's today during Andrew's drivers ed class. Flour prices have gone up again. No surprise really. But the comparison of prices was what threw me. Flour used to be about 20 cents/lb and fruit was $1-2 per pound, and meat was $2-4 per pound. Now flour is $.86/lb. Pink Lady apples were $.83/lb and strawberries were $1.49/pound. Now THAT's weird, when fruit is cheaper than flour!

Friday, May 09, 2008


We speak what we hear. If we hang out with people with potty-mouths, we will end up thinking/speaking profanity. If we live in the South where everyone says "y'all," we will end up with a drawl. If we listen to Christian radio, we will end up with the vocabulary of the fundamentalists and evangelicals. If we read Eastern Orthodox books, we will more and more speak and believe like the Orthodox. If a pastor immerses himself in Luther's Works, his preaching and prayers will sound more and more Lutheran.

"Lord, we just pray that You will ..."

"Just" means "exactly, precisely." Do we really mean to say that this petition is the only thing we want to pray? No. It's just the way some people pray, and if we hear it repeatedly, it is what we will say when we pray.

When a Lutheran pastor prays aloud during the Service, he should pray like a Lutheran and not like a fundamentalist. We have the hymnal. We have the Agenda. We have the Altar Book. If the pastor can pray ex corde ("from the heart," less reverently known as "winging it") and I can't tell, then he has learned to pray from the psalms and the collects so that what comes out of his mouth reflects what he has been praying all along. What the pastor is praying is faithful to what God intends for us to pray. But when the word "just" slips past his lips, he is revealing that his prayers have not been steeped in the catechism, the hymnal, and the psalter. His guidance in prayer has been from those with a different theology. And that does not belong at the altar as he leads his people in prayer.

A pastor has limited ways he can use the word "just" during public prayer. 1) As a surname, such as praying for Dr Just while he travels in Africa. 2) As an adjective, such as praying for wise & just rulers. But if he uses "just" as an adverb, it is time for him to strictly limit himself to READING the prayers -- reading them straight up -- from the hymnal.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Cast Iron

Lesson learned today:
Do not season the skillet with tallow. Lard works great. Crisco works. Even olive oil is kinda okay. But beef fat is not a good plan....

Don't ask me how I know. But if you come over, you may want to bring nose plugs.

Doesn't Jive

Why do I keep hearing about volunteer programs being canceled due to lack of funds?

For just one example, yesterday's paper had a headline about lack of funds resulting in the cancellation of some programs that require students to volunteer to do community service. (Hey, looky there: the previous sentence has TWO -- not just one but two -- examples of oxymoronic action.)

What COST is there to an organization (or the government) for VOLUNTEERS to do work? I think there must be some bureaucracy somewhere that benefits financially from volunteerism. Otherwise, this makes no sense.

My Old Shorts

It's been warm. Too warm to jog in my long jogging pants. I have two pairs of jogging shorts. (I think I do. Maybe I'm remembering something different. I never know any more, what with all the changes with the move, whether I'm remembering a plan that was or wasn't actually implemented. It is NOT time to re-watch A Beautiful Mind!)

Annnnyway, if I have two pairs of jogging shorts, one is AWOL. Maybe in a box. Maybe in a cupboard. Maybe hiding behind the milk in the fridge or under a lamp in the living room??? So in these warm days, I grabbed the blue shorts and started to put them on. OH, elastic, where have you gone? The waistband is shot; all sproinginess forever depleted by age. Y'know how old elastic crackles when it stretches, breaking and crumbling? I hate that sound!

So the blue shorts went into the trash. My good ol' shorts. My comfortable ol' shorts. How could they give up the ghost so soon? Wait! Soon? I started thinking. How old are those shorts? Let's see, I bought them at the end of junior high school. Those shorts were more than 30 years old. Granted, with the huge number of years I was pregnant and the great number of Wisconsin months where shorts are unwearable, those things could last a good long time. But I suppose even with those allowances, thirty years for an elastic waistband was pretty darn good. (What did it say in Deuteronomy about the Israelites' clothes and shoes not wearing out for 40 years?)

Good Shepherd Sunday

Oh, this is so cool!
(We were in John 21 for Bible class today.)

On Easter Sunday, we read the stories in the gospels regarding the resurrection of Jesus. Okay, we all know that.

On the first Sunday after Easter, we read the story of what happened on the Sunday after Jesus' resurrection -- the story of Thomas putting his finger into the wounds in Jesus' hands. Okay, lots of us know that too.

But the second Sunday after Easter we read John 10. It's Good Shepherd Sunday. That's not the story of what happened on the second Sunday after Jesus' resurrection: that day was the great catch of fish (in John 21). But that same Sunday, after the catch of fish and breakfast with Jesus, is the conversation between Peter and Jesus. "Simon, do you love Me? Feed My lambs. Simon, do you love Me? Tend My sheep. Simon, do you love Me? Feed My sheep." THAT must be why the Church celebrated Good Shepherd Sunday on the second Sunday after Easter. Those shepherd-stories from Ezekiel and John are placed there for a reason!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Eleven

A few days ago our Bible story was the end of Acts 1 when the group of disciples had the first synodical convention and voted on a twelfth apostle, choosing Matthias for Judas's spot. In the past, Pastor Wiest had pointed out to us that Jesus didn't tell them to vote, Jesus didn't tell them to fill a vacancy, Jesus didn't tell them they needed twelve right away. Jesus told them to wait. They didn't wait very well. (Looky, looky -- they're just like me! Oh, wait, that'd be a tangent....)

Paul would be the twelfth. But it would be quite a while before God sent them #12.

Pastor pointed out something this morning in our Bible story from Acts 2. Luke (closely associated with Paul) was still talking about "the Eleven" even after Matthias's election. It's like Luke was making a point that, even though Matthias "was numbered with the Eleven," he was not #12. Luke continues to refer to "the Eleven."

I'd never noticed that before.

Yellow Lights

When I was growing up I learned that green means go, red means stop, and yellow means the light is going to change to red pretty soon.

So if the light is about to change to red, what does that mean? Some people think it means slow down. Some people think it means speed up. Others think it means go through the intersection so that you don't have to wait through a red light.

I think what Andrew learned in drivers ed makes loads of sense. A yellow means "Stop if you can do so safely." So rather than a yellow being "You're going to have to decide what to do," it seems like less to think about (and right now I neeeeed less to think about!) to remember "yellow means stop."

Wood Pile

One of the very best parts of my job is that there's lots of different stuff to do, and I get to be the one to decide when to do it. I can do loads of cooking on one day and then put it in the freezer for another day. The kids and I can have a reading marathon, or read one chapter per day. We can go for a walk or do laundry or hit up the library, as we decide would work best.

That's one of the things I feel bad about Gary losing. Now he has to go to work and be indoors doing his job, and can no longer adjust his days/duties based on weather or health or other needs.

Yesterday I had all sorts of things I wanted to catch up on, and I had no idea where to start. But the day was gorgeous, and back on Sunday Maggie and I had started cleaning up the pile of wood for the fireplace, getting rid of garbage and weeds and rotted wood. With rain due today, I wanted to get that project completed. So we spent the day outside, in the sun and the warmth and the lovely fresh air. We got a big chunk of work taken care of, and kept a nice little campfire going all day (and even cooked steaks over it for supper).

And ...
in the process of all that cleaning up,
we found (underneath the place where the woodpile used to be)

some very nice dirt already dug up and crumbly and black. So with relatively little work with a rake, we now have a tiny little bit of lettuce and kohlrabi planted.

Oh, dear. That's got me dreaming of asparagus and raspberries and strawberries. And tomatoes and beans and potatoes. And that stuff is probably still a long way away, what with turning lawn into garden (and not even knowing yet where we can do so, seeing as how we don't know where the new septic system is going to be placed).

Looking forward to fresh lettuce in 45 days! Oh boy!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Cooking Therapy

After three days of being away from home virtually all day, I'm tired. I want to be home resting. At Matins this morning (on the way to getting Zippy's blinker fixed... so why am I talking about staying at home to rest today???) a friend asked if things were slowing down and how it was going.

I told him about the recent running around, and that I was looking forward to a day at home, just making granola and raking the yard and baking bread and making a real dinner and stuff like that. He looked at me and said, "No wonder you're tired!"

Tired? Tired from making granola and putzing around the kitchen? Those things are therapeutic! Those things are calm! Those things are refreshing! Too many days away from my stove and mixing bowls, and life is just not right.

Responsibility Levels

I get so frustrated when people don't do what they say they're going to do. The man who's going to be putting in our septic system said he'd stop by last week to see how the soil-moisture levels are doing. He didn't. When I called to check with him this week, I keep getting no answer.

I took Zippy in to get her a new left blinker after a little bump into her fender. I was supposed to be there at 8:00 when they opened. The employees didn't show up to open the repair shop this morning until 8:25.

The guy who said he'd take our pool hasn't started on the work. It's been over two weeks since I told him he could have it, and 12 days since we called him and told him that the deck was out of the way and that he was free to come over and start dismantling. He's been over here. But the work has not commenced. I'm going to have to get a hold of another volunteer to take the pool off our hands.

The pastor where we were visiting on Sunday got creative. Not only did he not stick to the book, but he tried to tell us that he actually was using the liturgy from Service of Prayer and Preaching. Uhhhh, NO. It had no resemblance to that.

Why can't people just do what they say they're going to do? I think sometimes Pastor B doesn't know what to do with my editing because I tend to be more like Scotty on Star Trek: I'd rather set up low expectations and then actually accomplish what I promised (and maybe even do better/more than what I intended). But it seems like too many people in the workplace today will over-represent what they can do, and then let down the customers. And on another tangent, that's why somebody should hire Philip; he'll do what he's supposed to do.

Given the selfishness exhibited in so many areas of society (driving habits, waiting in lines, not showing up for appointments, etc) I suspect that this problem in the business world is just going to get worse and worse as the years pass.