Wednesday, September 4, 2019

More Pictures

A few more pictures to share . . .



My Dad's Army Air Corps Uniform. I had it out to get ready to ship to my brother in Florida who requested it. Dad was a Staff Sergeant.



At the luncheon after the funeral, with my girls. They took good care of me those couple of weeks. :-)


With my brother and sister.


My brother and some of his family (not all could make it) are with us here, including his wife Lisa, his youngest daughter Olivia (who always had a special bond with her grandpa), and her son Daniel (the really little guy at the end of the table!).


Some cousins who stayed close to us and Dad over the years: Sally, Kathy, Reene, and Jackie, and spouses. They're the ones that would call Dad "Uncle Bee" - which I had always assumed was because of his initial . . . Uncle Bill = Uncle B. But I learned that was not the case! Rather, when you handwrite "Bill" with loopy L's, it looks like the word "Bee!" So that's where the name came from.


My sister and son Rob in the background, but also some good friends from St. Mark's: Bill and Dottie Atz, and Mrs. Buss. So glad they were able to come!


After the luncheon, my sister and I went back to the cemetery to visit some of the graves of other family members. Here are my Dad's parents, William Sr. and Eleanor Douthwaite, along with (I think) her parents.


We were surprised when we returned home from the funeral to find this blanket in our mailbox. The people at the Sunrise (my Dad's Memory Care) sent it to us. Such kindness, brought a tear or two . . . 


As my wife and I were waiting for the necessary folks to come and tend the body of my father, in the wee hours of that Monday morning, we were thinking of what we might get the Sunrise as a token of our appreciation to them for caring for Dad and to remember him by. We came across this metal sign and ordered it in those wee hours. Why this sign? Well, the past few months, my Dad had taken to saying "happy!" quite a bit. It caught on with the aides and kind of became something they said. So we bought this for them to hang in the unit as a memory of him.

My wife and I went over to the Sunrise yesterday to give it to them. I hadn't wanted to go last week - not yet. But with my wife leaving for a trip today and my having a trip next week, we thought we'd better go. So we did, and it was good. The ladies all greeted us so warmly and were delighted with the sign. We had some good hugs and smiles and I think it helped with the healing. We didn't see all the ladies that took care of Dad, though, so we'll have to go back to see them . . . and to see where they decided to hang the sign. :-)

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Memorabilia

Here are some pictures of the memorabilia we had on display for Dad at his funeral.


On this board are, of course, some pictures of Dad and Mom together. But also their marriage certificate, pictures of my Dad with his dogs (he loved 'em!), and with his grandkids. My wife and I looked for more pictures of Dad with us, his kids, from when we were little - but we realized they are all on slides! We didn't have any prints. We'll digitize those slides in the future so we have those pictures, too. Also, at the bottom are several pictures from these precious last few years, Dad with us and in his Memory Care. 

Finally, there's a bookmark on display, on the left side. A bookmark? That's odd! Well, it has the words "Little things mean a lot" on it. That was a special song to my Dad and Mom, and one we played for Dad a lot his last week with us. Go to YouTube and look for that song sung by Kitty Callen. Give it a listen. It's pretty good.



On this board is my Dad's High School diploma and a picture of his baseball team and the letter that he earned. He was a pitcher on that team. We also found his Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering from "The Augustinian College of Villanova," and some of his Army training certificates, his honorable discharge, and his dog tags. Pretty cool to have all that.


Here's his baptism certificate that we found after he died. (For the significance of this, read or listen to the sermon I preached for him, posted earlier in this blog.)


And here is the back of his flight jacket. A number of years ago, the jacket was rotting and falling apart, so he cut the back off and framed it. This was his squadron in World War 2, the Army Air Corps 13th Emergency Rescue Squadron, operating in the Pacific to find and rescue downed aviators. My son will be inheriting this.  :-)

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Legacy of a Father


My nephew, Rev. Adam Douthwaite; my brother, Rev. William Douthwaite; me, and my son Robert, who served as crucifer for his grandfather's funeral.

A lot of people wonder what their legacy will be; what people will think about them after they die. Some people devote a lot of time to this, but the judgment of history and time is something that proves quite elusive to control. 

Here is my father's legacy. Not one that he set out to make for himself, but the gift of God. Three pastors (so far) from him. He was often asked if he was a pastor to have two sons who were pastors. He would reply, "No, I'm not a pastor, I just raise 'em!" :-)  For the record, he was an electrical engineer. My son (so far) is following in his steps.

If you'd like to read my brother's thoughts on this day, click here.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Funeral Sermon


Here is the sermon I preached at my Dad's funeral. Again, if you want to watch and listen instead, here is the link to the video my brother made on his cell phone.

16 August 2019
St. Mark Lutheran Church, Ridley Park, PA
Funeral Sermon for William Douthwaite

Jesu Juva

“The Promise of Nothing”
Text: Isaiah 55:6-13; Romans 8:26-39; Philippians 1:18b-26; Matthew 28:1-10

I wrote this sermon when Dad was put on hospice for the first time; when we were told he only had ten days to live. That was three and a half years ago! God gave us the gift of these extra years, which were so precious. So, with a little editing . . .

Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you go with us to Mount Hope cemetery today, you will see those words etched into my father’s headstone. Those were his words. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord

And I think the older he grew, the more precious they grew, because it seemed like he was being separated from everything and everyone else. All of his immediate family has been gone for some time now. When you’re the youngest child, I guess that’s to be expected to some extent. But that has been the case for quite some time now - not just that they were all taken from him, but that they were so soon. Too soon.

Of course, the separation that hit him hardest was when his Nancy was separated from him. Being ten years older, he said, he always thought he would go first. A not unreasonable expectation, we would say. But that our Lord called her home frist, and almost 15 years ago, is another indication of what Isaiah said: that God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts not our thoughts

Then for the past almost six years, he was separated from his home - from the home he had lived in for almost 50 years, the church, here, that he was a member of for over 50 years, and from some of you that he had been friends with for 50 years. That grieved him too. He loved it here. He loved all of you. He didn’t want to be separated from you, but knew . . . but knew that it was needed. A bum hip, a tired body, and a failing memory were making it too hard to stay.

So Dad, I think, was a lot like the apostle John in this regard. John was the last one too. At the end of his life, he was separated from his home, in exile on the island of Patmos. In the book of Revelation, John sees visions of the martyrs who went before him - and I always think he saw his friends in that group in heaven wearing white robes. Peter, his brother James, Andrew, and the rest - they all went before him, too. 

But then Dad was like the apostle Paul, too. For Paul’s words from Philippians that we heard were his words: My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary . . . Dad didn’t know why staying was necessary; he wanted, like Paul, to go home. He said it many times. All the separation was hard for him. Hearing another friend had gone before him - especially his good friend Jack Buss - was hard for him. He wanted to go to that place Jesus had gone to prepare for him.

So how very, very precious these words of Christ for him, and for us today. As he, and we, live in the midst of a world of separation: Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing. Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation. Nothing. Not even a failing memory.

And the answer why is very simple: we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. More than conquerors through Him who was separated from His Father for us; forsaken on the cross for us. More than conquerors through Him who loved us so much that He entered into our death with us, enduring the condemnation of our sin for us. More than conquerors through Him who then brok the seal of the grave for us and rose to life again. More than conquerors through Him who then baptized us into His death and resurrection, that we might rise too. With Him. And never be separated from Him. Baptism is that inseparable bond where Jesus binds Himself to us, so that nothing can separate us from Him. Nothing. Yes, His Word and promise combined with that little bit of ordinary water is . . . that . . . great.

And Dad knew it. Jesus had planted that faith in his heart and made it grow and flourish over the years, as Dad was fed by the Word he heard preached here by so many pastors over so many years from that third pew on the left - right in front of the pulpit. That was his pew. And as his faith was strengthened by the Word of Absolution he heard pronounced here so often, and as he was fed by the Body and Blood of the Lord at this altar. Jesus was holding onto him.

And that’s why a few years ago, Dad wanted to make sure of his baptism. One day he started thinking about the fact that while he thought he had been baptized, and was pretty sure he had been, he didn’t have a certificate, and all that had witnessed it were already gone. The church wasn’t even there any more. But he wanted to be sure. It was really important to him. To have the nothing of baptism - the nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus - that was so important to him. 

And so my sister started making phone calls and investigating and following up . . . and finally found a pastor who had the records from the old church that had once been there, and Dad made a copy of the page showing that he had been baptized on April 20, 1924. And just how important that was to him is shown by the fact that he kept that page in special folder all its own, which he kept in his fireproof lock box with all his other really important papers.

Ironically, while we were looking at some of his old papers on Tuesday, we found his baptism certificate - it was on the display you saw when you came in. He had it all along. He just forgot. Toward the end, he forgot a lot of things. But Jesus never forgot him. Jesus never forgets his children.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Which is why he could say so often, with Paul, and pray for the Lord to take him home, to that place prepared for him. It wasn’t because he was so strong, so faithful, or so good - but because he had Jesus’ promise. Nothing can separate me from you, Bill. Nothing. Tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword . . . or dementia? Nah. I beat it all. I am your Good Shepherd. You shall not want . . . and you shall dwell with me in my house forever.

So now Dad has been separated from us - but just for a little while. The Father who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, has now answered Dad’s prayers and called our father home. As He graciously gave him all things here in this life, so now still graciously giving him all things - including rest and peace and no more pain, as we await the day of the resurrection of all flesh. Our grand reunion with Dad and Mom, Bill and Nancy - Uncle Bee - and All the Saints who from their labors rest (LSB #677).

So we will do as Paul said, and rejoice today. That’s not the same as being happy. We’re not happy to be here today! It’s better than that. It’s that because of Jesus, because of His death and resurrection for us, because of His promises, because of His forgiveness . . . we can rejoice even in the midst of sadness and separation. Because He conquered them. Because He is greater than them. Because We Know that Our Redeemer Lives (LSB #461).

And we’ll also do what Paul says in another place (1 Thess 5:18), and give thanks. Thanks for Jesus and all that He has done for Dad and for us. But also thanks to God for giving us this man for so many years, as father, grandfather, and great-grandfather; as uncle and friend; as His blessing to us.

So thank you, Father, for this our earthly father, and friend. For giving us a father who loved us, especially when that love showed itself as a leather belt across my disobedient and rebellious butt. For giving us a father who took us to church faithfully, who had us baptized, and showed us the importance of faith and being in the Word. Who showed us by devotions every night after dinner, lighting a candle and reading the Scriptures.

Thank you, Father, for giving us a father who showed us what love is as he took care of Mom in her last days. For giving us a father who prayed - the image of that I will always remember is of him sitting in his recliner in the morning, before work, before the sun came up, with his Bible on his lap, his eye closed, and his hands folded.

Thank you, Father, for giving us a father who was a sinner and showed us how important your forgiveness. For giving us a father who struggled, to help us learn from him and giving us a chance to care for him and love him and understand that when we are weak, you are strong (2 Cor 12:10). For giving us a father who wasn’t afraid to cry, and who taught us the importance of family.

But thank you most of all, Father, that You put him in Your family. That You adopted William as Your son. That You baptized him, redeemed him, forgave him, and at 2:17 am Monday morning, took him home to be with You. And thank You for the confidence that we now have in Your Word, not only that he is with You, but that we will be too, one day. That the “nothing” that was so precious to him is also for us. That it is true: Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing.
For Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

In the Name of the Father, and of the (+) Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Friday, August 23, 2019

Life Petition

Lutherans for Life has posted a petition in support of life as a gift from God. Go check it out and sign if you agree with it.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

A Couple Days Away

Well, the funeral is over, everyone is back home. It's been quite a couple of weeks. Emotionally, physically, mentally wrung out. We're going to go away for a couple of days and try to give my daughter at least a little, mini vacation before school starts. It feels quite weird to do so, I must say! So soon after the funeral. But we need to relax a bit. I'll post some more pictures when I get back. For now, here's a link to a video of the funeral my brother took on his phone. So the quality isn't the best, but hopefully you'll be able to hear it all. It really was quite a wonderful service. :-) The first time - and maybe the only time - my brother and I and my nephew will all lead a service together and preach together. A fitting tribute to my father, and the blessing he was to us all.

Miss you, Dad.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Funeral Day

It's early. No one else up yet. My body always gets up early, so I am up. So a few early morning, funeral day thoughts . . .

Everyone arrived safely last night. Got the rooms squared away. A little time to visit.

Today will be a whirlwind. Setting things up at the church. Going over details for the service with my brother and nephew. The emotion of closing the casket. The service - hope I make it through my sermon. The committal - that will be tough. Visiting other family graves. Lunch - that should be relaxing. Then back to the hotel to relax and remember and smile for a while.

It won't be a big funeral, Dad outlived almost everyone he knew! But family, nieces and nephews that knew and loved him, some old friends from church. Kind of appropriate - Dad wasn't a big crowds kind of guy. Liked his space. Sitting at home with Mom. Petting his dogs.

Tomorrow will be the start of a new chapter, no doubt about that. And we'll see where and how God leads. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Today first.

Thank You, Lord, for Your faithfulness to us. To Dad.
Thank You for all that You did for him through his life.
Thank You for calling, enlightening, sanctifying, and keeping Dad in the one true faith.
Thank You for making me his son.
Thank You for making me Your son, so I know I will see him again.
Thank You.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Obituary

Here is the link to my father's obituary on the funeral home web site, if you'd like to read it.

Also, here's a picture my wife had on her phone that I love. It just shows my Dad really well, I think. Happy. How I want to remember him.


He loved them to the End

As we were driving to Philadelphia yesterday to make arrangements for my father's funeral, I was thinking that though difficult, this is all part of loving my father to the end - even to the taking care of his body until the day of resurrection. So we visited him in memory care every day, we sat and stayed with him while sick, and we held his hands as he breathed his last. Now we will lovingly lay his body in the grave, and we'll continue to love him to the end.

So I then thought of Jesus on the night of His death. In John 13 we hear: when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. Do you see how Jesus reverses things here (as He always does)? We love our dying loved one to the end, but Jesus is the dying one loving his loved ones to the end! He is the one taking care of us. And He'll continue until there are no more ends or endings, only eternity. And then He'll love us forever.

How cool is that?

If you're at Saint Athanasius next year on Holy Thursday, you'll probably hear this in the sermon. :-)

And the greatest of these is love (1 Cor 13).

Indeed.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

+ Dad +

How long, O Lord? We got our answer. 2:17 am, Monday morning, August 12. That is when my father fell asleep in Jesus. My wife and I and my sister were able to be with him his last few hours here. It was rough. It seems so long ago already. Yet the sadness is still fresh. We read Scripture and hymns those last couple of hours. I tried to sing, but couldn't. We commended him into the hands of his Saviour. The same hands that baptized him when he was just over a month old, now came to take him home when he was 95 years old. Rejoice! Cry. Smile. Remember. Lots of remembering.

When my Mom died we still had Dad. Now that Dad has died it is a new time in life. One that will take some getting used to.

The Memory Care where my Dad lived the last three years is a place called Sunrise. They have lots of buildings here in Virginia. The aides were very good with him, and many of them came in and wept with us. They really cared for him. That's what we liked about the place. Many of them became like a second family to him and to us.

After my father's passing came the waiting with him and caring for his body. My dear wife at my side the whole time. What would I do without her? When morning broke (pictures below) a Hospice Nurse came and did her necessary work. Then a funeral home came to take his body. He will be transported to Pennsylvania where he was born and raised and spent most of his life. We'll have a service at his church, St. Mark's in Ridley Park, where we grew up and where he is still officially a member (over 50 years!), and then he'll lie beside my Mom awaiting the glorious resurrection on the Last Day.

Yesterday we also tended to some necessaries - while waiting for the men to come and take the hospital supplies that had been rented for him, we started cleaning out his room. Again, rejoicing, crying, smiling, remembering, crying with the afternoon shift of aides coming in . . . It was a really long day.

Today it is up to Pennsylvania to meet with the funeral home. My Dad had most of the details pre-planned, but still a few things to do and papers to sign. Then to the church to meet with the Pastor there. My brother and I (I believe) will conduct the funeral for him. We didn't want to with my Mom, but both of us wanted to with my Dad. Interesting. And then back home. So another long day today.

Finally, some pictures for you. First, the final sunrise at Sunrise, looking out his window there, as we await the Son to arise, return, and raise all the faithful to life with Him.




And a few of my Dad at Sunrise:


Seeing his granddaughter off to college. He really, really loved his grandkids!


Meeting his great-grandchild Elijah (from Florida) at his 92nd birthday party. He would up with six grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. So as we would tell him, that makes him pretty great!


All together for Father's Day.


Petting Danny Boy, the Memory Care cat. Sadly, Danny moved out the last year my father was there. He really liked Danny. One day he said: "All my life I've been a dog person, and here I went and got myself a cat!"  :-)


With his daughter. She had a special place in his heart. His pet name for her was "Suze." Not sure why, it just was.


Getting together for communion. Had more than a few times at his kitchen table there, along with his devotions every day.


My wife and I would often take turns visiting Dad, to make sure he got a visit nearly every day. But sometimes we got to go together, too, and "double team" him!


Birthday boy! This was his 94th, I believe.


Father's Day pizza. He loved his pizza! Pepperoni, always.


His last Christmas with us. He didn't really "get" unwrapping and receiving his gifts this year, but the present he LOVED was his two granddaughters playing Christmas hymns on their violins for him and singing along. We sang a lot that special day.


I love this picture of him. How I will remember him. Making me cry even now . . .

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Update on My Father

How long, O Lord? We read that in a psalm this morning. How often we ask that of the Lord in all kinds of circumstances and situations. We tend to be an impatient people.

How much time will the Lord give my father? We do not know. He is still with us. He is strong, but it will be when the Lord decides. We had a nurse practitioner come in yesterday and offer to increase his morphine "to slow his breathing." I was the only one here at the time, and that sounded funny to me. He wasn't breathing overly rapidly, so why would we want to do that? I told her to wait to speak to my wife (a registered nurse) first before changing anything. So later, my wife spoke to her and she was much more blunt with my wife as to the reason: to speed things up (let the reader understand). No! That's not how we do things. It a good caution to us: people often try to make things that are not good sound good.

In situations like these - and I've dealt with them often as a pastor but not so often as a son - we aim always to care, never to kill. The Lord may grant him healing and then we will rejoice in the added time we have received as a gift. Or, the Lord may call him home to his eternal rest and joy. And then we will rejoice in the life promised and now given. But we will wait for the Lord (another good phrase from the psalms!). And even if it takes a long time and is difficult, it is good.

A friend of mine, a former parishioner, and brother pastor Chris Yang and his wife Jenny came to visit Thursday night. My dad supported him through seminary and while he served as a missionary in Asia. They came by to see my dad here a couple of years ago when they were on home service from Asia. It was very nice of them to come by and speak the Word of God to my father and sing to him.


But today, another day of vigil with him . . .

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

As a Father Lay Dying

Note: I do not actually know how close my father is to falling asleep in Jesus. His hospice nurse informed us today that she did not believe it would be long. So I wrote down some thoughts as I sat with him today . . .

Sitting at the bedside of your of dying father, many thoughts cross through your mind.

You see the ravages of sin.

You see a man who served in World War II.

A man who always wondered how he got so lucky when he married his wife.

The man so strong when I was young, now so frail, fighting for every breath.

The man who took care of my mother when she herself lay dying with cancer.

You think about all this man did for me when I was growing up.

This day is like the Tower of Babel - he is trying to communicate with me, but I cannot understand what he's trying to say.

You see him looking . . . but what is he looking at?
What is he thinking about?

He's comforted by my being there. I know that. He reaches out for me. Often. Wants to know I'm there.

He's tired. And not just from this sickness, but from 95 years of life.

Most of me wants him to have his rest, to fall asleep in Jesus. But part of me wants him to stay.

His father died before I was born - how was that for him?

He's the youngest in his family, and the last to go. Soon a whole generation will have moved on. It's a new time in life for me and my brother and sister. We're the oldest now. Or soon will be . . .

The last six years, caring for him, I've learned a lot. But I learned a lot from him my whole life.

He taught me how to play golf, and to be honest doing so.

He taught me how to build with wood, and how to garden.

He taught me doing repairs around the house.

When I was in Junior High, he once drove me two hours to a band competition after I was late and missed the bus for it.

I remember him praying in the wee hours of the morning before going to work.

I remember family devotions after dinner, every night.

I remember the special, handmade valentines he made for my mom.

I remember stringing Christmas lights with him, then for him. And decorating the Christmas tree every year.

He served in the church in just about every role he could, including congregational president, head elder, trustee, and more.

I remember sitting out in the backyard with him after dinner. He'd sometimes smoke a cigar and we'd just sit and talk.

I remember the surprise retirement party we threw for him.

I remember how he taught me that family always comes first.

The last six years haven't been easy, but I'm glad I got to give back some of the care he always gave me.

Like when I was in college and he was unemployed my last two years. He was just about down to his last dollar, but he got me through - and never even told me how close it was until years later.

He kept a plaster of paris handprint I made for him when I was 5 or 6 years old. It's still in his dresser - we saw it tonight!

It's funny the things you think sitting by the bedside of your dying father . . .

Thank you, Lord, for giving me such a father.

Lord, let at last your angels come . . .

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Two Things . . .

First of all, a picture sent to me by a fellow Athanasian at the recent Convention. This is the pastors helping with the distribution of the Sacrament in the opening service all lined up and waiting for the start of the processional. It's easy to pick me out - just look for the silver hair!


And then also a quote that (I believe) I heard during the convention: "The hardest thing in the world is the human heart."

Friday, July 26, 2019

Convention Day Last

The final gavel came down yesterday. Before that, a flurry of activity, trying to get as many resolutions passed as possible. Overall it was an interesting week. Some good, some not so good. Our District delegation debriefed yesterday and then out for one final dinner together. We went to the Columbia restaurant in Ybor City. It is a pretty famous place and the food was really good. Some pictures:


An inside view of the Columbia. We were sitting on the first floor at the far end of this picture.


The "Wine Bible" as they called it. They said they have over 60,000 different wines! (How can you even choose from a list like that!)


You can't really read this, but it a warrant (or something similar to that) from 1929 - prohibition! The restaurant was accused of selling intoxicants and ordered to stop "in the name of the President of the United States." Very cool old piece of history.

So now I am sitting in the Tampa airport waiting for my flight home. The line to check my bag was enormous! But sailed through security with pre-check. (Worth every penny!) Now I am sitting at a carousel in the gate area. Just like the ones the have in libraries - very nice. Can get a little work done before boarding. And then home. It will be good to be home. :-)

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Convention Day 6

Wednesday was the last full day of the convention. So trying to get lots done. Finished up the elections, which took longer than hoped. A few surprises, but not too many. My Floor Committee finished up its work - our last time on the dais was in the morning. One resolution we knew would be contentious, but I was proud of the delegates who presented their concerns in a very churchly way. The same cannot be said about a resolution that came up in the afternoon concerning the now-closed Concordia College-Selma, AL. Lots of hurt feelings about that and it showed. There was lots of speaking - some relevant, some not. We did not finish with that - it's coming back up today, so we'll see how it goes. Maybe sleeping on it will improve things a little. A really good essayist today, Rev. Gottfried Martens. Go to the LCMS web page and look that one up - worth the listen.

So today is a half day, and then most people are rushing to the airport. Our district chose to stay an extra day, to have a debriefing and planning dinner meeting. On the one hand, that's nice, getting to avoid to rush to the airport and the crowds therein. On the other hand, it delays getting home by another day.

Yesterday was pretty rainy all day, and today is supposed to be the same. Not a big deal since we spend most of the day inside anyway. But have to walk from the hotel to the Convention Center, so getting a little wet. Hopefully I'll get there this morning before it really starts to rain. And hopefully we'll have a hiatus at lunch, too. I did see this walking to the Convention Center yesterday morning:


If you look closely, you can see the double rainbow.  :-)

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Convention Day 5

Another busy day on Tuesday. They really pack the days full here, which they need to do to get everything done. (And even then they often don't get to everything.) My Floor Committee was on again yesterday, and it was interesting - one resolution we thought would produce some blow back didn't get even one speaker! The other we thought would got a boat load of people who wanted to speak, but after a bunch of discussion on a proposed amendment, the chair (the Synodical President) pushed it through without any more discussion. I was a bit surprised, a little disappointed, but I also understand his reasons for doing so. That's one of the difficult thing he has to do - figure out how to regulate the debate and keep things moving. You want to be fair but also keep things moving. You want to let people speak, but you also want meaningful comments (which sometimes are rare!). I have a new appreciation for how difficult that job is.

We (my Floor Committee) has one resolution coming to the floor today that could be tense. I say could because some progress has been made that might enable it to proceed more smoothly. We'll see what today brings. This one has been the source of a great deal of time, energy, and discussion that (IMHO) has perhaps revealed an issue in our synodical structure (hierarchy) that needs addressing. But who am I? I'll mention it to some folks, but that's another thing I learned here: for many (not all) folks, who you ARE is often more important than what you SAY.

Now, some more pictures . . .


Athanasian-Missionary John Wolf here to promote the work being done in Africa and Kenya. We had some nice conversations. Hopefully he and his family will be able to visit us next year. Bishop Omolo is also here, and I got to greet him only very briefly. Hopefully I'll see him a little more before we end tomorrow.


The altar used for all the services. This isn't the best picture - between sessions they dim the lights up front. But it really is quite beautiful. The picture in the middle is a lamb shedding its blood for us.


Last night for dinner we went to the home of one of our delegates who lives and has his church in Tampa. It was Pastor Luke Jacob's (pictured) wife's birthday yesterday, so he got her on the phone and we all sang Happy Birthday to her - that's what you see going on here.

After dinner, I crashed. I couldn't stay awake any longer. All the early mornings and late nights finally caught up to me. So I got a bit more sleep last night than I had since I arrived. :-)

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Convention Day 4

I promised some pictures today, so . . .


This is Rev. Adam Koontz who is serving with me on a Floor Committee. This picture I took for my Dad, for Adam was in his church (St. Mark's, Ridley Park, PA) for a while when my Dad still lived there. He and Mom were quite fond of the Koontz's.


This is my view from the floor. I am seated a good ways back (assigned seats), but not all the way in the back. But as you can see with the jumbo TV screens, it really doesn't matter - you can see fine. It's actually probably easier on the neck!


My brother, who is also a delegate this year (which I think I said in earlier posts).


I was privileged to be invited to the Mill Neck Manor Deaf Ministry banquet last night. It was very nice. This picture is of Mrs. Grace Lam receiving the John of Beverly award for her work with the deaf in Macau.

So yesterday, convention-wise, we elected VPs and the Synod's Board of Directors. No surprises, really. And after this election, it became crystal clear who has the delegates and who does not, and so it is easy to predict how the rest of the elections will turn out. There may be a few exceptions or surprises, but its pretty clear how things are going.

My Floor Committee met again yesterday morning. We still had to discuss one sticky resolution and how to handle it. No one (and I do mean no one!) was absolutely certain what to do with it. The only thing that was certain was the desire not to set a precedent for future conventions by whatever we did. So, a way forward was chosen that might be palatable to all and achieve many purposes. We'll see how it turns out! (I know, is that vague enough? But I really shouldn't say more than that.)

Lots more elections today - we'll finish all the elections today, actually. And there should be some fun resolutions coming - we haven't really had the fun ones yet, IMHO. The only thing that has disappointed me so far is how quickly we sometimes stop debate - and whenever that motion is made, be it from the floor or the chair, it is ALWAYS passed. I understand the need to not get too bogged down and that we have limited time to get through everything, but still, there are people who wish to speak and times when I wished to have heard more. Maybe if time is a problem, reduce the maximum time allowed to speak from 2 minutes down to 1.5 or 1 minutes. Talk fast if you need!

I must also say that I've been busier than expected. I didn't really think about it much ahead of time, but did expect a bit more down time than I've had. 

Monday, July 22, 2019

Convention Days 2-3

So what's the convention been like so far?

Tiring. Interesting. Tedious. Joyful. (I better put that in - it's the theme of the convention!) Busy. Frustrating. Satisfying. All of this.

I'm sorry I don't have pictures to post. I'll try to get some today. When the convention meets, we meet for long stretches with no breaks. When the breaks come, there are lots of people to talk to and lots to talk about.

The opening Divine Service (Saturday night) was well done, except for the sound system. Something horrid happened to that and most of the assembly couldn't understand what was being said until the sermon - and some even after that. They got it mostly fixed, and its been fine for all the business, but its too bad it had to be that way for the opening service. I was privileged to be asked to help distribute the Sacrament. My station was one of the farthest away - but I managed to get back to it without spilling the Blood of Christ! (Don't trip, don't trip, don't trip . . . :-)

The delegate orientation was a bit tedious. But I guess they have to be super clear and go super slow to make sure everyone is at ease.

I mentioned in my last post that my Floor Committee was going to have our open hearing time on Saturday morning, but it wasn't expected to be too busy. We were wrong. There were many people who came and spoke, and we are still working on an issue or two! This morning we will meet again and hopefully resolve (pardon the pun!) some issues. We're on at 11:05 (the first of our three presentation times), so we need to be ready by then.

Elections took place yesterday for the Vice Presidents - nothing unexpected really. The incumbents who ran were re-elected. The two spots open because of men stepping down were filled as I expected. The ranking of the VPs also was pretty much the same.

We did pass a bunch of resolutions. It is interesting to note what is a sticking point to those who speak which is not for me (and, I suppose, vice versa). Knowing what I know now about how Floor Committees work, I know that 95% of the comments on the floor were probably already discussed by the committee and a decision made about them. But the convention as a whole gets voice, too.

I've been able to spend some good time with my brother, who is a delegate also. We've had a lunch (sort of) and a dinner together. Good to catch up. This morning and tomorrow morning, we'll also have breakfast together (thus achieving the coveted meal trifecta!) as the LCEF VP for both of the non-geographic districts hosts for us.

Anything else? Well, it's been stormy, but so far I haven't gotten caught out in the rain. I also haven't had time to walk through the vendor exhibits and get some freebies. Well, that's exactly true. I've had some time, but caught up in conversation instead.

So today, more elections. As I said, my Floor Committee will be up this morning. We'll be meeting also this morning right after the opening Matins. So, more news tomorrow!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Convention Day 1

Travel day to Tampa today (Friday), plus meeting with the Floor Committee to consider the feedback we received to our resolutions. The travel was smooth, and met in the afternoon for approx. 2.5 hours. But we didn't change any resolutions because of the feedback. This morning (Saturday) are the open hearings for the Floor Committees, where folks can come and speak to the group in person. Our chair doesn't expect there to be too many. We'll see.

The bad part of yesterday was not getting lunch. But kept busy, so didn't feel too hungry. The hotel we're at is very nice, and I have a vey nice view out my window. :-)  So, a few pictures for you:


Nice sunrise driving to the airport.


Cool clouds Ubering from the airport to the hotel.


A storm rolled in while we were eating dinner. Fortunately, we were able to finish and get back to the hotel before the deluge. You could tell right when it was about to hit and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees in a moment! Like a wall of cold air coming in. And then there was quite a show we got to see out our hotel window! 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

I am the Lord

I've been thinking about that phrase this week, appearing as it does multiple times in the Old Testament reading from Leviticus that will be read on Sunday. I am the Lord. How do you hear those words?

I am the Lord = I am sovereign, almighty, so do as I say!

or

I am the Lord = I am the one who brought you out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and am leading you to the promised land.

Big difference there! Law and Gospel. And I think mostly we hear those words the first way, rather than the second. But I think they mean the second.

So that's in the sermon for Sunday. Make sure you come and listen! :-) Or if you cannot, listen later online here or here.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Higher Things, Days 4-5

The last day of the conference each year doesn't have much going on . . . breakfast, Matins, final plenary, lunch, closing Divine Service. In between, packing and check-out. The second plenary speaker (who did the 3rd and 4th plenaries) was good. I really liked how he thought and presented things, his examples and explanations . . . it's just, well, he was like trying to get a drink from a fire hose! I cannot think of how he could have packed anything more into each hour session he had! So it was a little hard to absorb. But good. Really good stuff.

The closing Divine Service is always a highlight, with the choir and orchestra and lots and lots of good music. Really good closing sermon, too. Then off to the train station for us.


Shot of Chicago as our Uber driver approaches Union Station.


The Gold Cup final (soccer, for you non-soccer fans) is in Chicago on Sunday, so they had a big display in Union Station. Here's a giant mock up of the trophy.


And this is the actual trophy itself. (And yes, there were ropes around it and a guard so you couldn't get too close to it.)


The train ride home was uneventful. I was pretty wiped out from two long weeks, so after eating dinner, I pretty much passed out! Got to enjoy the morning, though, watching scenery go by. This picture is back at Union Station, DC. So all-in-all, a good week. :-)

Next year, will travel to either Knoxville, TN or Grand Rapids, MI for "Watermarked."