Monday, July 17, 2017

One BIG Weekend!

This weekend we got one of our seminarians both ordained and married! Not sure I would advise that for others, but it made for both a busy and joyous weekend. Some pictures . . .


Me and my former seminarian!


A good group of pastors present. A great big THANKS! to Pastor Esget and the folks of Immanuel for allowing us to use their church for this day.


The happy couple with the pastors who participated in the service.

So as I said after the service . . . I have now catechized, baptized, ordained, and married George. There's only one thing left! Let's hope I do not have to do that one.  :-)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Rest in Peace, My Friend

I was going to post this a few weeks ago, but life got busy . . .


About a month ago, a good friend of mine, Bill Hecht, was suddenly taken from us and called home to be with his Saviour. This is a picture of us from 2003, when I received my STM and he received the Miles Christi award from Concordia Theological Seminary. How great that we could receive these together.

As soon as I arrived in Virginia, Bill befriended me and took me under his wing. He was always a good friend, would go out of his way to do anything I asked if I had a problem or need, and was always encouraging and supportive. He invited my wife and I to several happenings on Capitol Hill - where I usually remember looking around at all the dignitaries there and thinking, "I don't belong here!" 

Bill was a pastor for several years before going into politics, but continued to pastor our congressmen in Washington whenever he had the chance. He would not only talk politics, but religion with them, and tell them of his Saviour. He was a true gift to me, my church, our synod, and to so many. He will be greatly missed. But thank you, Lord, for giving him to us as long as you did.

Bill wrote a book which was published a couple of years ago. I learned a lot from it. In it, you can not only find out more about him and his life, but the threats facing our country today. If you haven't read it, I encourage you to do so.




Saturday, July 8, 2017

Higher Things - Day Last

The last day of Higher Things is always a bit easier - breakfast, Matins, the last plenary session, lunch, packing and loading up, and the closing Divine Service. There's a bit more time to sit and talk to folks after lunch and bid farewell before everyone scatters. This year, our gathering was on the small side since the chapel could only seat 300 - so that was the maximum. The nice thing about that is that you get to know more of the people. So, the scattering was to 20 states - from South Dakota to Florida to Texas to New England.

Some pictures from after the closing Divine Service . . .


Our new friend and catechumen Jenna, a friend of our young ladies, who joined our group from Georgia. I do believe she's hooked and will be back with us next year!


Our row in chapel.


Old friend #1, Pastor Olson.


Old friend #2, Pastor Drosendahl.

Then on the way home, we stop for dinner. Last year the place we picked didn't turn out so good . . . so we played it safe this year: Cracker Barrel!


Even if you tried really hard, do you think you could wind up with 10 pegs left and no more moves? Someone did . . . !  :-)


Foooood!


Fried Alex. All fried, all the time.


That just looks good!


Mawmawmawmawmaw.

Then got everyone home safe and sound. Some on one side of midnight, some of us on the other. Next year, the closest conference will be in Southern Illinois! So we'll have to decide if we want to make a long drive or see if we can raise enough money to fly to one of the four. But for learning, fun, spiritual feeding, and unity, you just can't beat Higher Things.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Higher Things - Day 3

Many good things today. The youth are having fun and learning a lot - including lots of good discussions during meal times. All the services continue to be a highlight, and other things the will go unmentioned but that warm a pastor's heart. :-)  Makes these worth all the effort! And good for me is getting to spend time not only sitting in the services and being fed, but sitting there with my youth and especially my daughter. You know, pastors don't get to sit with their family in church very often! Nice.

So our great "gangsta" social media post from yesterday didn't get selected. Sigh. But undaunted, we try again . . .


Caption: Miss Ostapowich's Home for Peculiar Children
(If you miss the movie reference there, check the Google.
And Miss Ostapowich is the Conference Executive for Higher Things.)

That's got to win, right?

Other photo opportunities as well . . .


Are these the same girls in the group photo above? What happened?

And remember the "Giant Jenga" game I mentioned yesterday? Some more pictures of that  . . .


Maybe if Pastor yells at it . . .


Noooooooooo! You didn't just do that!
How is this thing staying up?

And then there's this picture . . .


Um, no. This is wrong.

And yes, there was free time . . .


There were always many different evening free time activities - some more strenuous than others. But all fun.

So today is the last plenary, then lunch, Closing Divine Service, and the drive home, arriving laaate. I'll try to take some more pictures today. But as usual, a very good week. :-)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Higher Things - Day 2

I started yesterday by talking about how long our drive here was. Well, there's few groups here from South Dakota who drove 30 hours to be here! Yowzers. Impressive. I met one of the young men from that group, Morgan, who just graduated high school and is thinking about seminary in the future. Good guy. 



How about a group picture?


If you don't like that one, how about this one?


Um . . . well . . . we're hoping for the best social media post of the day. I think we have a pretty good one thought up for today as well!

Overall a good day. Everyone I talked to enjoyed their breakaway sessions, and of course, all the services. Just something about singing good solid liturgy and hymns in a chapel packed with youth all singing heartily. :-)

I taught my second session already, so I am d-o-n-e! Get to kick back now. Actually was doing that before. This trip is busy, but a nice break from the usual routine and other kinds of busyness. But I digress . . .

How about the food? Not bad. Other places we've been to have been better. More limited choices here. But good conversation and fun around the table - some serious questions and discussion, too.


Last night during free time, Sarah and I played the most epic giant Jenga game of all time. It just wouldn't end. The picture below doesn't do it justice - we went many more rounds after this picture.


 I finally had to lose on purpose so I could get to the talent show, to support our own . . .


Miss Fields, who sang awesomely! There were some other really good talents as well, and some not so good, too. They'll announce winners today, but she gets my vote!

Met another old friend - former vicar in the circuit, Pastor Neugebauer, from South Dakota.


And just a few more random pictures for your viewing enjoyment!



(Don't worry! No old pastors were injured in the taking of this picture.)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Higher Things - Day 1

I have so many things to blog about, but things have been so busy I haven't gotten to it. Soon. But anyway, here in North Carolina at Higher Things and will try to post each day, as I have other years. Though I didn't take too many pictures yet . . .

This is how the day started:


We left at 5 am to get down to Mars Hill University in time. But a little later:


We got there in time. The first thing to notice is that the campus is much smaller than last year (Vanderbilt) and so we won't have to do anywhere near as much walking! Also, its probably about 20 degrees cooler here in the mountains of NC - so a lot better that way too.

The chapel here is nice but rather small, so this conference had a max of 300. We either met it or got rather close because the chapel was full. That's good for singing. Dr. Fickenscher from the Ft. Wayne Seminary is the first of our two plenary speakers, and guess who made it onto the stage during his first session?


Yes, our own Miss Juliana was part of the "human timeline" Dr. Fickenscher put together to talk about where the Reformation fit into history.

The first Breakaway sessions were after dinner and Evening Prayer, and I had one of these first slots. It's tough at the end of a long day, but it went pretty well. I had better than expected attendance - filled the room they put me in. My topic this year is: Should Christianity Be Legal? to get the kids thinking not only about threats to Christianity in our world today but how we think about ourselves as Christians, learning some lessons from history. I'm up again today in the second afternoon session, right before dinner.

We also got to see some fireworks last night - I love fireworks! A good cap to the day. I took a short video of the finale, but think I accidentally deleted it on my phone. :-(  Yes, technology bites me in the butt again.

Well, off to shower now . . .

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Litany of Humility

Came across this in my reading yesterday and thought I would share it.

Litany of Humility

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart,
Make my heart like yours.

From self-will, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being loved, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being honored, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being praised, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being preferred to others, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being approved, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire to be understood, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire to be visited, deliver me, O Lord.

From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being despised, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being abandoned, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being refused, deliver me, O Lord.

That others may be loved more than I, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I go unnoticed, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others my be preferred to me in everything, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.

At being unknown and poor, Lord, I want to rejoice.
At being deprived of the natural perfections of body and mind, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When people do not think of me, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they assign me the meanest tasks, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they do not even deign to make use of me, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they never ask my opinion, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they leave me at the lowest place, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they never compliment me, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they blame me in season and out of season, Lord, I want to rejoice.

Blessed are those who suffer persecution for Jesus' sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

(This is an expanded adaptation of the Litany of Humility by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val as found in The Power of Silence by Robert Cardinal Sarah, p 17-19.)