27 May 2015

New bike...

...well, almost. In consultation with Dean (the family's acknowledged Bike-meisterr), ordered a Giant Sedona hybrid. Maybe here tomorrow or Friday. Can't wait to hit the trails with Cindi again! I wish I could commute with it, but three hours on bike on either end may be a TAD too much. Still, have been thinking through all the stuff we could do without the cars (even shopping in Edwardsville isn't out of the question). Cindi picked up a nifty new basket today. I might pick one up too one of these days.

Aside from bike shopping, we went for another long walk in the sun (and it was all sun today). 


Then a couple hours in the pool, dinner, and some projects around the house. The sun is beginning to set while Pandora is cranking out stunningly gorgeous celtic harp music. Another great day, thanks be to God!

26 May 2015

A restorative day

Slept in a bit, and then made breakfast for Cindi and me before she headed out to work. We finished praying Matins together as a storm rolled in. Cindi left, and I enjoyed some french press coffee. Then began work out. By the time all was done 333 push ups, 130 squats, 100 sit ups, and 50 pull ups, and about two hours of walking (yes, I'm obsesive about counting every little bit). The final hour and half or so was with Cindi when she came home. We walked up to the farm and back. The wind was howling on the prairie, and the sky was alternately cloudy or brightly sunny. Absolutely beautiful. We grabbed some left overs, put on Angelo's latest podcast (outstanding as usual!), and floated in the pool for a while. It was finally so cloudy and chilly, we ended up finishing the podcast sitting on the deck. Table is set and Cindi's fixing up a chicken dish for dinner. Hopefully some Liverpool this evening to cap out the day.

24 May 2015

STRETCHED

That's what Carlo did with choir this year. When I think back on what he's pulled off, I'm amazed. The Rutter "What Sweeter Music," the Mozart Organ Solo Mass Kyrie and Gloria in Exclesis; K. Lee Scott's "Holy, Holy, Holy;" Franck's "Veni Creator;" and Mozart's "Panis Angelicus." All this with a little country church out in the cornfields of Southern Illinois. And it was fun beyond words! Still, I'm ready for a summer beak. If you're a member of St. Paul who can carry a tune in a bucket, you really do need to join us this fall. You'll be blown away by how much fun it is!

The Feast of Pentecost

What a joyous feast day! For preservice, Carlo gave us Durufle's Veni Creator. Choir sang a Gounod "Spirit of God" and then also the Franck Veni Creator in Latin. The congregation belted out "O Holy Spirit" (17th century), "Come, Holy Ghost" (16th century), "Holy Spirit, Light Divine" (19th century), "Creator Spirit by Whose Aid" (9th century), "Come Down, O Love Divine" (14th century) and the closing hymn was "O Day Full of Grace" (15th century).  A span of over a thousand years in the hymns!

The sermon began with pastor reminding us that if we think we need a little peace and quiet, we need to think with our God, who indeed wants to give us peace, but not through quiet; through speaking instead, through His Words!  

I confess, I still miss the whereat in the Preface. Whereat the whole world rejoiceth with exceeding joy! Still the whole day reminded me of the St. Seraphim of Sarov line: "The Holy Spirit turns to joy whatever He touches." He touched this day and gave it to us as a way of entering into His joy!

23 May 2015

Today

Sofa arrived and Bekah is checking it out...


Despite the sad funeral (still having difficulty wrapping my mind around it), a wonderful day. Cindi and I grabbed a bite to eat. I used Tim's family's power washer to clean the siding and the fence. Cindi and I went for a long walk (up to Ray and Arline's and then all the way to where bike trail ends in Hamel and then on around home). We enjoyed a Nor Cal margarita on the deck and then spent some time in the pool (technically, on TOP of the pool!). Bird feeders filled (and humming bird feeders replenished). Burgers on the grill with tater salad and brussel sprouts for dinner. 

Tailor!

So, my son persuaded me to give it a shot. I took some of my clericals (which hang like bags around me!), a couple shirts, and a pair of pants I like but could no longer wear because they were way too big. Cost $124. And wow, was David ever right! They look a thousand times better. The tailor said that if you've never had clothes fitting to your body, you just grow used to that look. But once you SEE what the clothes look like that actually fit you, there's no going back. I'm already planning on another trip in a month or two to get some more fixed. Who'd a thunk?

22 May 2015

AND...

...a glorious week of staycation beginning. We have a funeral for a dear friend tomorrow that we're singing for (truly, "in the midst of life, death has us surrounded"); new couch and table are supposed to arrive in the afternoon (kids have been after us for a long time about those...); choir sings Veni Creator for Pentecost and then later in the day we have a wedding (Melissa, Meaghan's sister); Monday we're visiting with friends for cards. And after that??? Absolutely nothing till next Monday.

That is, unless Lauren decides to go early. Grandbaby #4's birth is definitely impending.

Primal Progress...

...been almost six months since a return to strictly primal eating and exercising. (You might recall that it became really difficult to figure out how to do this when I took the job at Synod!) Am soooo glad to be back on track!

Beginning back in February, I started using the gizmo in the gym at work that lets you know your body fat. Started out at over 17 percent (and I'd have loved to know what it was back in November when I was weighing some twenty-five pounds more than I do now). Today was excited to note that I'm at 10.2 percent body fat, with BMI of 21. Not too shabby for a man who will turn 55 this fall!

Lately, I've been mostly just doing body weight exercises for strength. Today was the first time I was able to do 300 push ups, 120 squats, 36 pull ups and 60 sit ups. The body weight exercises I do only twice a week. I walk most days a minimum of 30 minutes, and I run the days I don't walk. Have faithfully kept up with sprints (on stationary bike) once a week. Also, I NEVER take the elevators at work, and run up and down the stairs a bit (iPhone says 20 floors today). I've pretty much given up lunch to have the time to do these workouts, and don't miss the chow (or the expense) one little bit.

I feel as though I've fought my way back to where I was when working on the goal of fabulously fit by fifty. But fought isn't the right word, really. It's been ridiculously simple. Not easy, but simple. I'd recommend anyone at all to give it a try!

21 May 2015

And again

Earth, I think, will not be found by anyone to be in the end a very distinct place. I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself. —Lewis, The Business of Heaven, p. 134.

20 May 2015

A reminder to go with the catechesis...

...a century out from the Reformation, Johann Gerhard taught seven distinct duties of the Office of the Holy Ministry. Preaching the Word, administering the Sacraments, diligent prayer for the flock, leading an honorable life, administering church discipline, preservation of church rites, and care of the poor and afflicted.

About that number six, he says:

In the exercise of divine worship, certain solemn, public rites should be preserved that aim at good order and decorum and were introduced by the pious consensus of the whole church. Therefore the protection of ecclesiastical rites, which were approved by serious consideration and which give useful instruction concerning many topics in public assemblies, also pertains to the ecclesiastical ministry. Nor should a minister change them, leading to scandal in the church, because of some private desire of his mind. Consequently, the sixth duty of ministers is the preservation of ecclesiastical rites.—Johann Gerhard, On the Ministry II, p. 101.

Chapel Homily

Catechesis: Summary of AC, Part 1

1 This then is nearly a complete summary of our teaching. As can be seen, there is nothing that varies from the Scriptures, or from the Church universal, or from the Church of Rome, as known from its writers. Since this is the case, those who insist that our teachers are to be regarded as heretics are judging harshly. 2 There is, however, disagreement on certain abuses that have crept into the Church without rightful authority. Even here, if there are some differences, the bishops should bear with us patiently because of the Confession we have just reviewed. Even the Church’s canon law is not so severe that it demands the same rites everywhere. 3 Nor, for that matter, have the rites of all churches ever been the same. 4 Although, in large part, the ancient rites are diligently observed among us. It is a false and hate-filled charge that our churches have abolished all the ceremonies instituted in ancient times. 5 But the abuses connected with the ordinary rites have been a common source of complaint. They have been corrected to some extent since they could not be approved with a good conscience.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Years ago, a friend of mine contemplated taking a summer class at Concordia Bronxville taught by Dr. Nagel. Now, he'd read much of Dr. Nagel's writings over the years, so he wrote him to ask if there's be anything new in this class. Neither he nor I ever forgot the good Dr.'s response: "No, nothing new. Same old catholic and apostolic faith." 

That is the very spirit in which the Augsburg Confession wraps up its basic layout of the doctrine taught in the Churches that had embraced the Reformation. Nothing new here. Same old catholic and apostolic faith. Check it out they say. It's what the Scriptures teach. It's what the Church catholic has always taught. It's even what the Church of Rome teaches if you bother to read the great fathers who served there. Nothing new! 

Yet they were charged by their opponents with teaching all sorts of novelties and not holding to the traditions of the Church. They own up that they've changed some things, but they characterize those items as abuses that crept into the Church's life without lawful authority. When we cover part two of the Confession, you'll hear a list of them: withholding the cup from the laity, forbidding priests to get married, buying and selling masses, and so on. Our churches fixed these things. And the Confessors note that part of the tradition of the Church is the exercise of freedom regarding humanly instituted ceremonies. They've never been the same everywhere, and they never will be. Nevertheless, say the Confessors, check out our churches and see if it's true or not. We diligently observe most of the ancient rites. That is, ceremonies that didn't conflict with the Word of God, that didn't obscure the Gospel, we cheerfully keep and diligently observe. Check out our Mass, our Divine Service. Check out the sermons and the topics of our preaching. Check out how we don't give the sacrament to anyone who hasn't been examined and absolved in private confession. Check out the kids being catechized and examined. Check out prayers in our homes and daily reading of the Word of God together. Check out how we baptize and teach its use. Check out how we ordain pastors and how only those who have been called and ordained publicly preach, teach or administer the sacraments in our churches. Check us out and you'll see, the Confessors told the emperor, that you've been fed a bunch of hooey about us!

Are we able to make such a claim today in honesty and truth? Is the doctrine taught in our parishes and schools nothing but the same old catholic and apostolic faith that the Church has ever lived from and that we've heard summarized in these weeks from the first 21 articles of the Augsburg Confession? Is it true that we reform anything that ends up obscuring the Gospel, but diligently retain for the most part the ancient rites? 

It seems to me that to be a confessional Church, we must allow our Confessions to challenge us, correct us, and point us in the direction we need to return. If that's not a description of who we are, why can it not be a description of who we mean to be and become again? Surely to be a catholic Christian standing in evangelical freedom and rejoicing in the good order of the Church across the ages is a blessed, blessed calling. I am convinced everyone wants to be such a Lutheran; they just don't know it yet! The Augsburg Confession points the way. Nothing new. Same old catholic and apostolic faith. Shall we not return? In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

A bit of Lewis for the day

The attempt is based on the belief that reality never presents us with an absolutely, unavoidable 'either-or'' that, granted skill and patience and (above all) time enough, some way of embracing both alternatives can always be found; that mere development or adjustment or refinement will somehow turn evil into good without our being called on for a final and total rejection of anything we should like to retain. This belief I take to be a disastrous error.—The Business of Heaven, p. 133.