Friday, December 06, 2013

The Trinity in the Second Petition

God's kingdom comes when our heavenly FATHER gives us His HOLY SPIRIT, so that by His grace we believe His holy WORD and lead godly lives, here in time, and there in eternity.

The Word became flesh
and dwelt among us ...
John 1:14

Those Blasted Cell Phones

Once upon a time, we had no answering machines.
Once upon a time, we would go on vacation, away from the telephone for an entire week.

Today people get itchy if they leave the cell phone at home for an hour or two of errands.  What if they miss something?  People!  People!  It's good to be away from the phone sometimes!

An online article recently pointed out what happens when teens have constant contact with their friends via texting.  They end up with nothing to talk about in-real-life.  And they have no incentive to spend time together in-real-life. 

Try it.  Fight the addiction.  Turn off the phone for a couple of hours a day.  Say no to the stress of always being available to dozens of friends.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Symphony This Sunday

Our church choirs have a reputation.

(That's kind of cool....)

This Sunday we're singing at the concert for the local symphony

At work the other day, I heard a commercial for us.  On a 50,000-watt radio station.  On one of their most-listened-to talk-shows.  A commercial for us.  I was excited!  Oh my goodness -- you can buy tickets for the concert on Ticketmaster.  To me, that's where you get tickets for Toby Keith or Kenny Chesney or Michael Buble.  One of my co-workers said, "I have NEVER seen you nearly so pumped about ANYthing."  No foolin'!

This is going to be fun.

If you're local and want to attend, it's 3:00 on Sunday at Hamilton Fine Arts Center (at the high school).  Information is available at the symphony's website.  The children's choirs are singing a couple of songs without the adults, and I don't know what those pieces are.  The adults (or adults with the kids) are singing:
Once in Royal David's City (Mann/Willcocks/Vierrege)
Up, Good Christen Folk
Praise God the Lord, Ye Sons of Men (Hugo Distler)
Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree
Your Little Ones, Dear Lord, Are We  (David Cherwien) 
Silent Night (Hal Hopson)
See, in Yonder Manger Low (Keith Veirrege)


"The Mission."
A movie with amazing music and cinematography and casting.
Docudrama set in the 1750s in South America: Jesuit missionaries going to the native peoples, and what happened when the Treaty of Madrid rearranged European "ownership" of the South American lands.

The movie has a bunch of different aspects:

Enslavement of the Guarani people even when slavery was officially illegal.

Corrupt leadership, in both political government and church government.

The shock to authorities when they find native people (so unlike themselves) trusting in the same Lord, worshiping Him with the same liturgy, and receiving the same sacraments.

The place of priests in fighting injustice: fighting militarily or not.

Persecution of the Church.

Self-defense and "just war."

The affect of the Gospel.

Whoa, that last one!  (Okay.  Warning.  Spoilers ahead.)

In the story, a slave trader ends up killing his brother in a duel.  He is devastated.  There is no hope for him.  The person who finally gets through to him partially is the priest who is ministering to the Indians who had been this slave trader's prey.  Of course, being Roman Catholics, there had to be penance.  They came up with a task, and the slave trader kept at it.  No matter how long he doggedly worked at his penance, he wasn't finding peace.  There was no relief. 

There was no comfort for him until he arrived at the home of those Indians he had hunted ... and they forgave him.  They did not take vengeance on him.  They physically removed the burden he'd been lugging along as penance.  And they accepted him into their midst. 

Penance did not save him.
Penance did not help make up for his evils.
Penance showed him that he could not atone for what he'd done.
It was mercy and forgiveness that freed him.
That mercy, in conjunction with God's word, was what changed the slave trader into a priest.

The Mission is one of those movies that is both sickening and beautiful.  The violence & gore, the bigotry, the evils -- it's enough to turn your stomach.  And yet, there's the beauty of defending the innocent, and the glory of seeing hearts and lives changed by the Gospel.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

"Bless You!"

Gesundheit.  That is, "good health."

One lovely day when I was sitting at the feet of John Kleinig, the good doctor mentioned that people chafe if we preach to them.  People don't want us to speak the Gospel to them.  They really don't want to hear the Law.  Some won't mind too much if you say that you pray for them.

But he said nobody gets upset if you bless them.

You know what?

I think he's right.

God bless you.

And then, when you say out loud
"God bless you,"
in your heart you can also
beg the Lord to bless this person.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013


We have been at the Curves gym two-and-a-half months now.  It takes time.  We progressed past the point of not wanting to bother going.  (C'mon, really?  Audible verbal arguments with myself?  "I don't WANT to go today."  "You need to."  "No, I don't.  What difference does one day make?"  "For exercise, probably not much.  But making a habit?  Skipping just one day makes a huge difference in your mental commitment."  "Commitment schmamittment.  Bah humbug."  "Fetch your gym shoes and get moving, you lazy bum.")

Maggie finds Curves to be more fun than going for walks or using the Goodwill-purchased exercise equipment in our basement.  We were doggedly pushing each other to build this into a habit, a routine, a natural part of life.  And it was working ... until we skipped a week due to illness and another half-week due to holiday closures.  Now it's time to rebuild that habit.

Some critics say Curves is for old women.  Or for people out of shape.  Yeah?  So what's the problem?  I'm old.  And Maggie is out of shape.  We're doing something.

Maggie lost 3 pounds in the first three weeks.  Unfortunately, she gained back most of them with Halloween chocolate.  But she gained back "most."  Not all! And this morning we did our first weigh-and-measure since we joined, and she's down nearly 8#.  That's excellent news!

Monday, December 02, 2013

The Difference Between East and West

In 1951 Herman Sasse wrote to pastors about the place of the cross in the Eastern Church and the Ancient Church. 
As soon as the great question is put: Cur Deus homo? [Why did God become man?] it is understood [in the Eastern church] as a question for the rationale of the incarnation rather than of the death of Christ.

Sure enough, an EO writer says --
The Incarnation did not take place for the Crucifixion; the Crucifixion took place so the Incarnation and the eternal communion of God and man could be fulfilled despite Satan, sin, and death. Explaining that there was no necessity in God the Father that required the death of His Son, St. Gregory is telling us that, from before the ages, it was the divine will for mankind to be sanctified and made immortal by communion with the humanity of the Incarnate God, but corruptibility and death came and stood in the way. 

Sasse continues:
Thus for the Ancient Church, as even today for the Eastern Church, the cross is hidden in the miracle of Christmas and in the miracle of Easter.

How is that limitation of Ancient Christianity and its theology to be explained? Certainly it must not be forgotten that the divine revelation given in Holy Scriptures is so rich that whole centuries are necessary to understand its content fully. It cannot be expected that the Church of the First Ecumenical Councils should already have solved the problems of the medieval Western World.

As to the meaning of redemption, the Greek Fathers could not get away from the idealistic conception of man.

The lack of full understanding of the greatness of sin is the reason why the Ancient Church and the Church of the East never reached a theologia crucis.

So if you wonder what's the difference between Lutherans and the Eastern church, this is it.  In EO, sin is not quite as bad, not quite as deep, not quite as corrupting, as what the Bible teaches. 

"The Law shows us our sin
and how much we need a Savior."

Not so much sin?
Then you don't need so much of a Savior, do you?
And some of the glory goes to you instead of all the glory being His.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Andrew's Schooling

He's still waiting to hear the verdict as to whether he was accepted to the RN program at our local tech school.  Fantastic program with shockingly low tuition.  (Hey, shockingly high property taxes ... and thus the thing about "every dark cloud has a silver lining.")  I thought Andrew was a shoo-in.  Great entrance-test scores and perfect GPA. 

But then he told me that those factors cannot be considered in the decision-making process for who's admitted to the program.

Really?  I'm dumbfounded.  What DO they use as criteria to make the decision then?  Or maybe they don't make decisions, but just draw names out of a hat?

Well, he's got a good job as a CNA. 
And hopefully, in another week or two, we'll hear good news that invites him to sign up for classes for spring semester.

(Wow.  You can't use performance in pre-nursing classes to determine who's admitted to the nursing program.  Just wow.)