Friday, December 24, 2010

Sheep and Shepherds

The last line of the Venite (Psalm 95) says that we are "the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand." I don't know about you, but I tend to think of a pasture as a place for sheep, not for people. I've been pondering on the oddness of "people of His pasture" for a few months. I think Pastor accidentally answered it for me during last Sunday's Bible class.

We were studying Luke 2. The shepherds heard from the angels. They went to Bethlehem to see this thing which had come to pass. And they blabbed it all over the place! They told! They couldn't hold in the joy of the news that the Messiah had come to save sinners! "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

But the Apostle John not only points out Jesus, the Lamb; he also is the one who records Jesus' discourse on the Good Shepherd. Jesus is both the Lamb and the Good Shepherd. Our pastors are shepherds, but they are also Jesus' lambs. Same for us: "I am Jesus' little lamb; ever glad at heart I am...." Still, we (like the shepherds) tell our children and our friends and our neighbors about the Good Shepherd. If Jesus is both Lamb and Shepherd, we who are joined to Him would also be both lambs and shepherds.

And maybe that explains the line in the Venite.

Like shepherds who have heard the angel's preaching, let us go now even unto Bethlehem (the House of Bread) and sing the [tweaked] Easter hymn:
Then let us feast this [Christmas] day
on Christ, the bread of heaven.
The Word of grace has purged away
the old and evil leaven.
Christ our Lord our souls will feed;
He is our meat and drink indeed.
Faith lives upon no other. Alleluia!

Today's Laugh

Philip was telling us today that Matt (who is a doctor) has a t-shirt that says "Trust me, I'm a doctor." We looked up a picture, and this is what we found.

(You have to be pretty geeky to get this, but some of us are highly amused!)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Today's Laugh

A man went to his dentist because he felt something wrong in his mouth. The dentist examined him and said, "That new upper plate I put in for you six months ago is eroding. What have you been eating?"

The man replied, Aall I can think of is that about four months ago my wife made some asparagus and put some stuff on it that was delicious ... Hollandaise sauce. I loved it so much I now put it on everything — meat, toast, fish, vegetables, everything."

"Well," said the dentist, "that's probably the problem. Hollandaise sauce is made with lots of lemon juice, which is highly corrosive. It's eaten away your upper plate. I'll make you a new plate, and this time I'll use chrome."

"Why chrome?" asked the patient.

The dentist replied, "It's simple. Everyone knows that there's no plate like chrome for the Hollandaise!"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Presents Under the Tree

I didn't think we'd have presents this year. But the tree is surrounded!

1. A stranger showed up last week with a large bag full of presents from an anonymous giver. We're still scratching our heads over that one.
2. Nathan's folks sent presents for Alia, Katie, and Nathan. Those currently are sitting under our tree, as the kids don't have a tree at their apartment.
3. Yee-haw for the dollar store!
4. Some of the items under the tree are not really presents. For instance, there are a few textbooks that should've been cracked a couple of weeks ago, but we wrapped them up instead and are calling them gifts.
5. Another yee-haw for sales and "here's-$10-to-spend" coupons. I bought a $30 gift today for $4.
6. And "wow!" for the gift cards available. With sale prices and a coupon and some Kohl's Cash from a friend, I bought two gifts (worth $150) for less than $10. We came out of Target with a $50 family-gift that Maggie paid $15 for. We hit up Best Buy and paid a whole dollar for $28 worth of fun stuff.
7. I'm not spending money we don't have for gifts that people don't need. But I do have stuff that I made over the summer that I can give to the older kids so that they can have something for Christmas.
8. A homeschooling friend wanted to get rid of a "5-minute toy." It looks like it will be amusing for an afternoon or a week. All we had to do was buy the batteries.

Thanks to some generous friends and last-minute shopping, we found some non-frivolous (but enjoyable and helpful) gifts so that everyone will have at least one thing to open on Christmas afternoon. That is so cool!

Doubting Thomas on the Solstice

So does anybody else find enchanting the two celebrations for this one date?

The antiphon for this day is "O Dayspring, splendor of light everlasting: come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death." It reminds us of Zachariah's song at the birth of his son John: "... by the forgiveness of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."

Thomas didn't see Jesus that first evening after the resurrection. Thomas was in the darkness of unbelief and doubt. The Apostle John writes at the beginning of his gospel: "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.... He came to His own, but His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God." On this feast of the holy Apostle Thomas, we remember his doubts that are so like unto our doubts. We see in him our flesh's desire to trust what we see and experience instead of what we hear from our Lord. But we also see a Savior who remained faithful even when we are faithless. We see a Savior who was committed to fulfilling His word. We see because He is the light. We see because He gives sight to the blind.

Enlighten our darkness with the light of Your Christ.
May His word be a lamp to our feet
and a light to our path.
For You are merciful, and You love Your whole creation.
And we, Your creatures, glorify You,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Why the difference? Some people say, "I know this is hard for you," and you can feel the sympathy and the love coming through. Others say, "I know this is hard for you," and somehow it comes off as an implication that it shouldn't be hard for you, and what's the matter with you that it is?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

At Home

Phone calls around here often proceed thusly:
Maggie: Hello, [last name] residence.
Caller: Hi, Susan. [blah blah blah]
Maggie: Ummmm... this is Maggie. I can go get my mom for you.
Caller: Oh. Okay. Wow, you sound just like your mom.

So yesterday I pick up the telephone.
Susan: Hello, [last name] residence.
Caller: Hi. Is your dad home? If so, may I talk to him?
Susan: Peter???
Caller: This isn't Maggie?
Susan: No, it's Susan. My dad is home, but you can't talk to him for a couple more decades. So, would you like to talk to my husband?

Y'know, that's such a comforting thing to say. He is at home.

"At home."
Beautiful words!