Thursday, December 24, 2009
A blessed Christmas to all who read or may stumble across this blog. For some of you it may be merry also, but I know that for many Christmas brings heartache and pain. For you I pray that the grace and peace of our Saviour's love enlighten the darkness of this time; and for others I pray that the merriness of this day not darken the light of our Saviour's grace and peace.
My gift this day is the words of my favorite Christmas hymn, by Paul Gerhardt. (UPDATE: click here to listen to this hymn!)
O Jesus Christ, Thy manger is
My paradise at which my soul reclineth.
For there, O Lord, Doth lie the Word
Made flesh for us; herein Thy grace forth shineth.
He whom the sea And wind obey
Doth come to serve the sinner in great meekness.
Thou, God's own Son, With us art one,
Dost join us and our children in our weakness.
Thy light and grace Our guilt efface,
Thy heav'nly riches all our loss retrieving.
Immanuel, Thy birth doth quell
The pow'r of hell and Satan's bold deceiving.
Thou Christian heart, Whoe'er thou art,
Be of good cheer and let no sorrow move thee!
For God's own Child, In mercy mild,
Joins thee to Him; how greatly God must love thee!
Remember Thou What glory now
The Lord prepared thee for all earthly sadness.
The angel host Can never boast
Of greater glory, greater bliss or gladness.
The world may hold Her wealth and gold;
But Thou, my heart, keep Christ as thy true treasure.
To Him hold fast Until at last
A crown be thine and honor in full measure.
from The Lutheran Service Book #372
(c) 1941 Concordia Publishing House
Monday, December 21, 2009
I have been a subscriber to XM satellite radio for several years now. I like their service, especially when I am traveling, but I must say that their merger with Sirius has killed them. Their prices have gone up, their service has gone down, several channels are not as good as they used to be, and (I just found out today) that if I want to listen online now, I will have to pay an additional $3 per month. No way. I wish they would go back to the way they were.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Well, this day is about over. Soon I am off to bed. But what a day. The snow forced us to cancel church (see previous post) and so this morning saw our first ever video conference Matins so that the folks of my congregation could still hear the Word of God proclaimed. It worked pretty well. We offered two times so that everyone could log on who wanted to. This is a nice tool to have - not a substitute for church, but nice when situations like this arise.
After that was a couple of hours of digging out the house and cars. Still haven't had a plow down the street, so getting out tomorrow will be dicey. After shoveling, played games with the family for a while. We were supposed to go hear the US Navy Band's Holiday concert, see the National Christmas Tree and all the state trees around it, and then go to dinner in DC, but that all got canceled. :-( But the games were fun.
Then it was to the TV to watch my Eagles clinch a playoff spot with a win against the 49ers. So all in all, a nice day. Tomorrow a busy week of sermons, family plans, finishing up tasks, and getting ready to travel after Christmas. Now off to bed. I'm beat.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Well, the snow is 14 inches or so around my house and still coming down strong. We have canceled the Divine Service for tomorrow - even if they manage to get the highways clear, the side streets will be too difficult to navigate. We will offer Matins online at 10 am and 11 am tomorrow morning instead. Click here for instructions on how to join us. Stay safe and warm and see you all on Christmas Eve!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
No, the title of this post is not an exclamation of pleasure, but of horror! One of my members was in Philadelphia last week, and brought me a bulletin from a church there (name not mentioned to protect the guilty). In place of a creed, they had a "statement of faith . . . adapted from Albert Schweitzer." (That sound you hear is my head shaking in disbelief . . .) Please sit before reading this:
We can find no name that expresses what God is for us.
God who comes to us as One unknown,
without a name, as of old, by the lake-side.
God came to those who did not know God.
God speaks to us the same word: "Follow me!"
and sets us to the tasks to fulfill for our time.
And to those who obey, however they may be,
God will be revealed in the toils, the conflicts,
the sufferings that they shall pass through,
in God's fellowship,
and, as an ineffable mystery,
they shall learn in their own experience Who God is.
How can one begin to critique this?? It is beyond correctability, all possibility of good prose (God came to those who did not know God?? Who talks like that??), and has no redeeming value. This statement of faith simply directs one to their own works and experience - a recipe for despair. And what about that first line? "No name for what God is for us?" I have one: how about Immanuel, God with us.
My heart grieves for the people of my hometown who have to put up with such garbage. kyrie eleison!
I gave one of my tirades in Bible Class today. Why? The church who owns the building we rent for services is preparing for their big holiday stuff next weekend, and they are turning the church building into Bethlehem and environs. I wouldn't mind if it were just the hall, hallways, and classrooms, but when the sanctuary also starts getting changed, I get grumpy. It's their church and they can do what they want and we have to work around it . . . just makes things hard. But what I pointed out is that when you don't have the sacraments, this is what happens - something rushes in to fill the vacuum. Therefore, how do you celebrate Christmas or Easter? How do you remember? How do you put yourself in the story? You have to act it out. You have to try to put yourself there. But we don't have to do that! The sacraments are what unite us to Christ and make us participants in the story. We don't have to try to go to Bethlehem when Jesus comes to us in His body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins. So at Christmas, there is no better way to remember and celebrate than receiving the Lord's Supper. That is where heaven and earth meet. You cannot get closer to him than that. So, I'm not against plays or pageants if you want to do them (just leave the sanctuary alone, please!), but to borrow some words from the apostle Peter, we have something more sure! Let us rejoice to receive Him there.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Have you ever been on a train, seen someone sleeping, and wondered if they were going to miss their stop?
Well, yup. Now, that's me!
Yesterday on my way home from school, I fell asleep. I didn't think I was that tired, but I guess I was. I woke up when the train was stopped at the station after mine - just in time to get off the train. Another few seconds and it would have been the next stop. Couldn't find any busses going back north, so I had to phone my wife to come pick me up.
It will be a long time before I sleep on the train again!