Monday, September 27, 2010
We had "church on the road" yesterday, one of the joys of not having our own church building. The Adventist church we rent space from scheduled a special event for themselves yesterday and told us (10 days ago!) that we needed to make other arrangements. We did, but not happily. We met in the home of some members where we usually meet for Holy Week services (since we cannot use the church building for those services either). It is a bit cramped, and we lose some people with the new location, but all in all it works okay. I try to maintain a reverent atmosphere so that the surroundings will fade and the gifts that are being given will be highlighted. I know one of our members that did not get the word and went to the church - I am sorry! I pray there were no visitors who showed up . . .
But as I was thinking more about this early this morning, I was thinking of how things work in a marriage, and the promises "for better, for worse." Sometimes being the pastor of a church without its own building is for better (no maintenance headaches!), and sometimes it is "for worse" (like yesterday). But that we're in this together, pastor and people, there is no doubt.
Now to start making plans for where we'll celebrate Christmas. I hope they'll let us use the building on Friday night for Christmas Eve, but with Christmas Day on a Saturday, I'm sure the Adventists will be using the building that morning. So we'll again take our church on the road - but wherever we'll be, our Saviour will be with us, faithfully forgiving and feeding His little flock called Saint Athanasius.
My Latin is coming along. I've been translating a bit of Ambrose and am getting better at recognizing many grammatical constructs. My problem is that while I can more easily determine the grammar of a sentence, my "getting it into good English" is still a bit lacking. My competency exam is October 12th, so I still have a little time to improve.
Friday, September 17, 2010
I was asked the other day why my blogging has begun to crawl. The short answer is: my blog is at the bottom of my priority list. When I get busy, the blog gets put off. And I've been *very* busy, between a new semester at school with two very demanding courses, trying to do lots of Latin translating in preparation for my competency exam on October 12th, lots of pastoral visits and stuff at church, our campus ministry ramping up again, and family obligations. Nights have been late, mornings early, and sleep in short supply. So . . . I'll try to blog a bit more, but no guarantees!
Friday, September 10, 2010
Ever wonder what out synodical president does? What does his office look like? It seems that our new president, Matthew Harrison, is making a concerted effort to show what is happening in his office. One of his assistants, Rev. Dr. Al Collver, is making many pictures and explanation available on his blog. Here are some of the posts:
I think this kind of glimpse into the workings of the "synod" is helpful and will help to build trust in our church body. It has been long known that giving to the synod is down - perhaps because no one knew where all that money was going and for what? We heard where the money was not going, but not the other stuff. To be able to see this and know our president better is a good thing.
As for the orientation theme: "Witness, Mercy, and Life Together," what do you think? I think you'll see this showing up a lot . . . like as the theme for the next convention! This replaces Dr. Kieschnick's "One Mission, One Message, One People" theme.
My first impression is favorable. It seems wider than Dr. Kieschnick's. It seems to take into account our congregational structure as well as our life together as a synod. I am not surprised that "mercy" is in it, given Harrison's work for the last 10 years. It will be interesting to see what our president does with this now and for the years to come.
One last thing: although President Harrison officially took office on September 1st, his service of installation is tomorrow, Saturday, September 11th, at 10:00 am CT. You can watch the live internet stream here.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
I learned yesterday that Elizabeth died.
Who is Elizabeth? She was one of the members of the congregation I first served out of seminary, Holy Trinity in Yonkers, NY. But not just one of the members. Right after my installation, she asked my mother if she could adopt me as a son, since she had been given three daughters but no sons. She was my first pastoral visit later that week. She befriended my wife and showed her around Yonkers - even the pretty seedy parts. She was always at church doing something - weeding the gardens, cleaning, fixing. She always baked a cake and brought it to every funeral viewing. She came to every Bible Class with her list of questions from her devotional readings - often written on the back of a receipt from a store, or something like that! She loved to laugh and make others laugh. She loved her Lord and loved her church, and couldn't picture being anywhere else. She was a tough old Slovak who lived a tough life and wouldn't have had it any other way. She prayed for years that her husband would join the church and kneel beside her at the altar. He did, and now she has gone to be with him with her dear Saviour.
She cried when I accepted the call to serve the saints at St. Athanasius. She still called from time to time to check up on us. When I first left, she told me she wanted me to come back and do her funeral. That changed, for she received a better pastor now than I. But I also told her then that I wouldn't, because she had told me before that she was going to be buried naked, for "naked she came, and naked she would go." I told her I didn't want to see that! :-) She died Friday night from a heart problem - I think I shall call it a broken heart. Why? Well, her congregation recently voted to leaved the SELC District of the LCMS (the old "Slovak district") and join the Atlantic District. I do not condemn them for that decision, and pray that it work out well for them. But I'm sure it saddened Elizabeth, and broke her heart.
Now she has joined the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven around the throne of the Lamb in heaven. I am so happy for her. She knew much sadness here on earth. She will know such joy there. She sang in my choir in Yonkers while we had it, always telling me that her voice wasn't very good and that other pastors didn't let her sing in their choirs! Now what a choir she is a part of! I will think of her today during the Divine Service when we sing the Sanctus, that she has taken her place beside my own mother, on the "other side" of the altar.
Rest in peace, dear Elizabeth. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Blessed indeed, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!" (Revelation 14:13)