30 November 2007
The mightiest hunter of them all
We honor in this festal hall
Born of a humble Virgin mild,
Heaven's King became a little child:
Caput apri defero, reddens laudes Domino.
He hunted down through earth and hell
That swart boar Death until it fell.
This mighty deed for us was done,
Therefore sing we in unison:
Caput apri defero, reddens laudes Domino.
Let not this boar's head cause alarm,
The huntsman drew his power to harm.
So death, which still appears so grim,
Has yielded all its power to Him!
Caput apri defero, reddens laudes Domino.
Creator of the stars of night,
Thy people's everlasting Light:
O Christ, Redeemer, save us all
And hear Thy servants when they call.
Thou, grieving that the ancient curse
Should doom to death a universe,
Hast found the healing full of grace
To cure and save our ruined race.
Thou cam'st the Bridegroom of the bride,
As drew the world to eventide,
The spotless Victim all divine
Proceeding from a virgin shrine.
At whose dread name, majestic now,
All knees must bend, all hearts must bow;
All things celestial Thee shall own,
And things terrestrial, Lord alone.
O Thou whose coming is with dread
To judge the living and the dead,
Preserve us from the ancient foe
While still we wander here below.
To God the Father and the Son
And Holy Spirit, Three in One,
Praise, honor, might and glory be
From age to age eternally.
P.S. It is sad to note, though, that the words of verse three have not been fairly translated. The Latin (from the Lutheran Magdeburg Book of 1613): Vergente mundi vespere / Ceu Sponsus ex cubuiculo / egressus escastissima / De Matris almae clausula. Thus, confessing the closed womb birth. The Lutheran Magdeburg Book of 1613 has the hymn provided for Vespers in this form and with a series of Scriptures listed in the column. When you get to "De Matris almae clausua" we find Ezekiel 44:2. Fancy that! Back to the old Lex Orandi observation - even though confessed in FC SD VII:100, what is not prayed and sung, does not maintain itself in the people's faith.
29 November 2007
"It is truly good, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God: for You have mightily governed and protected Your holy Church, in which the blessed apostles and evangelists proclaimed Your divine and saving Gospel. Therefore with patriarchs and prophets, apostles and evangelists, with Your servant Saint Andrew, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying: Holy, holy, holy..."
Yup, we join with St. Andrew and with all of God's holy saints in the endless doxologies that swirl about the throne of the Thrice-Holy One!
With the end of the service, my day was done, but Cindi has headed over to choir. What a crazy week! Who would have anticipated all its joys and sorrows? Only our Lord who always knows and does what is best, and to whom we give glory with all His saints to the ages of ages.
28 November 2007
When he was but a little bundle, not even two weeks old, his godly father and mother brought him to the Rock, to Jesus Christ. “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling, naked, come to thee for dress, helpless look to thee for grace, foul, I to the fountain fly. Wash me, Savior, or I die!” And washed he was.
As Pastor Hansen poured the water over his little head in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ, cleft for Paul, and Paul began his journey through this world of being conformed ever more closely to his Lord, the Rock. He was in process of becoming a living stone.
It was some 13 years later that he knelt before this very altar and promised that his life would belong to the Lord Jesus and not to himself. And he opened his mouth and received into it for the very first time the body and blood of the Rock of Ages. “For you” said Pastor Hennig as he poured the blood that ran from Christ’s riven side down Paul’s throat. “For the forgiveness of your sin.”
As he grew in years his distinctive character took shape. A man of great integrity, good hearted and kind, loving and - we must say it - fun. Blue eyes that twinkled in merriment as he told his stories and laughed and led those who struggled to get along to find peace in Him who was the Rock of his life. He had the gift.
And when he laid eyes on that young teacher, Lynn Cowell, well that was the end of that. He knew what he was after and went after her with all the grace and humor that always characterized his life. And what a life you two had together - how it blessed so many people - not the least of which are your children and grandchildren, whom he loved so much. But also all those you two made feel part of your family - a family without limit, always open and welcoming to others. Truly it is said, Paul Steinmann never met a stranger.
In our second reading, we heard St. Peter (another Rock man) give an invitation: “Come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, and you yourselves like living stones be built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Paul never tired of inviting others to become living stones like himself. To build their life on the Rock that is Jesus Christ. Even during his sickness, Lynn, you told me of his witness to a woman who just couldn’t understand his contentment, his joy, his peace. He told her that he went to church where God supplied him with everything he needed for time and for eternity and he told her she should give it a try. She did, too! Her life is changed because Paul spoke up in witness to His Lord.
Paul, you see, knew how utterly precious is what goes on in this room. We who love him have a hard time remembering that he was sinner - he was to so many of us such an icon of God’s goodness. But he was that because he never forgot or underestimated his own sin.
Just three days before his death, through great pain, he spoke the words of the confession: “I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto You all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended You and justly deserved Your temporal and eternal punishment.” No matter what we might think, he knew that of himself he had deserved nothing from God but wrath, and yet he trusted wholly that His Lord loved him and had suffered and died for him, His Jesus, the Rock in which he always sought refuge. As the body and blood of Christ went into him for the last time, it brought him as it had across the last sixty-seven years, the promise and guarantee that his sins were answered for completely, and so death would never, ever be the end of him. He would live in Christ forevermore. To know that is to know a peace unshakable. You could see it on his face.
Having communed, he joined his feeble voice in the song of Simeon for the last time. He sang in a way that he had been practicing for these many years: “Lord, NOW lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thine salvation.” Which is to say: “It’s okay, God. I can die now. I know I have peace with you and life that never ends. Take me home.”
And so came that moment when, with his family gathered around him, the hymns the church on earth ringing in his ears, his eyes closed to this world and opened to heaven, and - just as you said Lynn - his voice was set free to join in the hymns of the saints who behold the Rock of Ages. It was heart-breaking, and it was devastatingly beautiful at the same time. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”
We, as is natural, have the tendency to look on this from our perspective. Paul was blessed in that moment to see things also from God’s. Here was a moment that God had been waiting for since before time began. He got to bring His beloved Paul, His little Rock, His Steinmann, home to the Kingdom He had prepared, joined him to his loved ones who had gone ahead of him, and showed things that we can’t even begin to dream of now.
This is the joyful and blessed end of all who build their life upon the Rock of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. Against them, the gates of hell will never prevail. Joined to Christ, their souls live now in His light and rest, beyond all pain and heart-ache, and they await with us the joyful moment of the resurrrection of their bodies.
“Oh, that my words were written, that they were engraved in the rock for ever. I know that my Redeemer lives.” Job’s words were Paul’s as well. May they be yours and mine throughout our days of pilgrimage and whenever our last day finds us. May we live and die with the confidence of a Paul Steinmann in his everlasting Rock, and so join him in praising our Redeemer unto the ages of ages. Amen.
27 November 2007
Here's a wonderful trick my friend, Dr. Lee Maxwell, taught me years ago: when you are pressed for time and have a number of homilies to prepare, write the LAST one first, and then work back in reverse order.
This method works so well because it keeps the pressure on - you've still got the nearest one that needs writing, but you can't begin to work on it until the more distant ones are completed.
I hope to do something similar throughout all the weeks of Advent/Christmas.
26 November 2007
Oh come, ye people, gather here
To hear the new of good cheer,
The King of kings, the Lamb of God,
Is born today in Bethlehem!
25 November 2007
This week I will be doing our shut-in calls (I actually got a couple done last week!), numerous meetings, and several sermons to finish up. I'm teaching three days at Trinity-St. Paul Lutheran School this week. There's Golden Agers on Tuesday, our regular Wednesday class and our Thursday a.m. men's group and a meeting with our beloved District President on Thursday. And Advent looms with its extra services and sermons.
The key to peace (I preach to myself) is to look at one day at a time and to spend it in the presence of God, asking His blessing upon all that is thought, said, or done. Also allowing nothing to crowd out time in the Word and for praying the daily offices. That means getting up early tomorrow morning, and so I'm off to bed tonight.
"Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping..."
The shift to these Psalms will be accompanied in the Divine Service with the loss of the Greater Gloria (Gloria in Excelsis), but NOT of the Alleluias, which continue during Advent. At St. Paul's during the penitential seasons (Advent and Lent) we also use the Baptismal Creed, the Apostles', in the Divine Service rather than the customary Nicene Creed.
2. Never lose sight of your goal: that Christ be formed in the hearer.
3. Begin with the readings and feed the people of God from them.
4. Honor your fathers - study how the readings have been proclaimed in the Church - this is far more helpful, interesting, and important that spending time in modern commentaries. Pride of place should be given to Luther's Postils in your reading, but don't forget that HE got much of his insight from the fathers who came before him, especially St. John Chrysostom.
5. In honoring your fathers, pay special heed to the points at which they seem to be silly; be silent before them and listen, think and ponder what they say. Their folly may be the wisdom of God.
6. A sermon that does not get the hearers to the Cross has been worthless, for the Cross is the prism from which we view all things, and is it the key to unlocking the Sacred Scriptures.
7. Pay special heed to the Jesus "proprium." That is, what do these readings give you of Jesus that they alone give?
8. If you think you understand the OT without referring it to Him who said that the Moses and the Prophets testify of Him, you have not understood it at all.
9. The pulpit is not the place for your bright ideas, it is for speaking the Words of the Lord.
10. The pulpit is not the place for being polite: do not hesitate to call sin what it is and to call people to repent.
11. Never step into the pulpit without having prayed for God to open your lips that your mouth may declare His praise.
12. By the time Sunday evening has fallen, you should already have read the pericopes for the upcoming Sunday, and you should reread them frequently during the week, to live with and truly hear the Words of God before you try to speak them.
13. If you use "you" law (and it is law at its most potent), do not neglect to find ways to indicate to the congregation that you are very much under the same condemnation.
14. Avoid "we" gospel - for the Gospel's very essence is in its "for-you-ness."
15. Forgiveness is not a "thing" and you shouldn't make it sound like it is some kind of "get out of hell free card" that you hand over; rather make sure that forgiveness comes across as God finding the way to come to your hearers in mercy and love so that His very presence does not destroy them in their sin, but destroys their sin in them.
16. Don't waste time on telling folks how to live the blessed life before you've taught them inside and out how to die the blessed death; if they know how to die in faith, living in faith is sort of a "duh."
17. Don't preach Law - Gospel - Law. Instead preach Law - Gospel - Mystical Union.
18. Remember that preaching the Gospel is not only a means of CREATING faith; but it is one of God's prime means of SUSTAINING faith.
19. You cannot remind your hearers too often that they are "people loved by God."
20. Eucharistic preaching does not mean tacking an irrelevant reference to the Eucharist to the end of your sermon; it means to summon the baptized to that the Blood that cleanses the world from sin and the Body that belongs to God enfleshed as our brother; gifts which are not distant and imaginary, but real and will be shortly be upon the altar, in the pastor's hand and in their mouths.
24 November 2007
You do nothing by half-measures. If you’re going to read the Bible, you want to read it in the original languages. If you’re going to teach, you’re going to reach as many souls as possible, through a proliferation of lectures and books. If you’re a guy and you’re going to fight for purity … well, you’d better hide the kitchen shears.
Five foolish and five wise - and the only thing that separates the two in Jesus' story is that the wise had extra flasks of oil and the foolish did not. A costly mistake. The foolish lose out on the Wedding feast they had been waiting for. "The door was shut." And when the come late, asking for admittance, all they hear is: "I do not know you." So what does the extra oil stand for? What is Jesus tell us that the wise have and the foolish lack?
We could speculate on all kinds of things, but better than guessing is to go to the Scriptures and chase down "oil." Images begin to coalesce.
Noah putting forth his hand from the ark and taking in the dove, with an olive branch in its mouth - sign that the judgment had passed and that it was safe to leave the ark. Olive branch, olive oil. Water and a dove.
The anointing of Saul - oil poured by old Samuel upon the young man's head and the Spirit suddenly coming on him in power and he prophesying, so that they asked: "Is Saul also among the prophets?"
Isaiah uttering the prophesy: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor."
And all the images uniting as Jesus stands in the water, and the Spirit descends "like a dove" "anointing" him. Thus He enters His office as Christ! When we speak of our Lord as the "Christ" we are calling Him the Anointed One, and confessing that the Spirit of God rests on Him.
From start to finish the Bible unites Spirit and oil together; so much so that the verb used of pouring out oil is also the verb used of pouring out the Spirit: "anoint!"
So the five wise virgins were those who kept by them the supply of oil, that is the supply of the Spirit? What does that mean in practical terms?
We know that in Baptism God richly pours out His Spirit on His people: "Be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit - the promise is for you and your children." Acts 2. But the sad fact is that our lives are very much jars of clay, cracked pots. The Spirit poured in only once, drains out. He must be constantly and freshly poured into us if the lamp of faith is to keep burning bright in our lives. Thus Paul writes: "Do not quench the Spirit!"
But where is He being poured out? Where are the extra flasks filled with the oil of the Spirit we'll need for our faith to burn brightly until the Day of Christ's return?
In the Church! The full flasks are simply the means of grace - the Word and the Sacraments of Jesus. To live our lives near them, constantly being replenished by them, letting the Spirit be poured into us - that is to be a wise virgin.
To say: "O, I'm a Christian" and then wander away from them, not to give a listen to Jesus' words, not to come often to hear His absolution, not to eat often of His body and blood, is to live foolishly indeed. For what was once poured in, drains out through the cracks of our lamp, drains out through our sin. That's to live in the danger of being caught out empty on the Last Day!
So when the Lord says: "What I say to you, I say to all, watch!" He is urging us to camp out by the spiritual flasks of the Church.
The flasks of the Church are truly full to overflowing, for they are supplied from the Lord Jesus Himself, who fills them to the brim with His Spirit and His life. This is the life He came from heaven to give us. This is the life He brought into our flesh and blood when He assumed it from Mary's womb. This is the life He died on the cross to pour out into us - the gift of forgiveness, the Life of the Trinity, the Joy that is the Holy Spirit, the Peace and the Love that the Spirit brings with Him because that's who He is. All of these located for us richly in the flasks of the means of grace.
But no one else can camp out at the means of grace for you - no one else can receive the Spirit for you, and so no one can believe for you. So the wise cannot give their flasks to the foolish - impossible. Each must have their own. So it's not a matter of your mother being in church or your sister or your father or your brother. It's a matter of YOU being where the flasks are full and letting the overflow keep your lamp of faith burning bright.
Thus the only way to be prepared for that day is to make a habit of truly listening to His Words, to make a habit of hearing the absolution and trusting it, to make a habit of coming to His altar and letting Him give His body and blood into you for the forgiveness of all your sins; this is how you "watch." This is how you can have the certainty Paul spoke in our second reading that "God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him." Thus you'll be a people prepared and ready for whenever your Lord shall return and with joy, your lamp of faith will burn brightly in the night as you greet him and enter with Him into the feast of joy that never ends. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.
I've spent part of the afternoon reading some sermons on Advent I. Johann Gerhard and Martin Luther are quite different in homiletical approach. I enjoy them both for very different reasons. Gerhard seems always to have in mind the way that Scripture as a unity calls to itself from one passage to another, and by the time he's done with a text you've seen that text in the light of the whole of creation, redemption and eschatology. Luther tends to focus a bit more on the text. Oh, he definitely uses "scripture to interpret scripture" but he rarely moves far afield from the point of the passage under consideration. Though Gerhard is a century after Luther, Gerhard's approach is far more reminiscent of the Church fathers that he loves so much. Luther is actually more modern.
I am far more familiar with Luther's Gospel sermons than those on the Epistles. Today, though, I decided to read the sermon in the Church Postil on the Epistle for Advent I. I couldn't help but think what a fine preparation for Advent itself - the exposition of St. Paul's words in Romans 13. What is the call of the Holy Church in Advent-tide? Naught but "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires."
"Now in Christ we behold only the true armor of light. No gormandizing or drunkenness is here; nothing but fasting, moderation, and restraint of the flesh, incident to labor, exertion, preaching, praying and doing good to mankind."
"Now, the armor of light is, briefly, the good works opposed to gluttony, drunkenness, licentiousness; to indolence, strife, and envying: such as fasting, watchfulness, prayer, labor, chastity, modesty, temperance, goodness, endurance of hunger and thirst, of cold and heat."
"The flesh must be restrained and made subservient to the spirit."
"All foods are good creations of God and to be used. Only take heed to be temperate in appropriating them and to abstain when it is necessary to the conquest of the works of darkness. It is impossible to lay down a common rule of abstinence, for all bodies are not constituted alike. One needs more, another less. Everyone must judge for himself; and must care for his body according to the advice of St. Paul: 'Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.' Had there been any other rule for us, Paul would not have omitted it here.'"
Luther's last bit there reminded me of the wise words of Blessed John Cassian about the fathers' rule for fasting. He says there really was only one that was universal and that was simply to stop eating before you are full. I think Luther would have said an "Amen" to that one too.
23 November 2007
22 November 2007
I am still amazed that in this day and age we have a Church full on Thanksgiving morning, 9:00. I think for so many in our parish it would be unthinkable to start the day without gathering as a parish family and offering the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God and hearing His Word.
We're still learning the Matins out of LSB. A few little bumps along the road with that - but we're definitely almost there.
Seminarian Richard Rikli stood in St. Paul's pulpit for the first time and delivered a homily that invited us into true thanksliving as he extolled the great things that God has done for us not only in what we normally think of as "first article" gifts, but also "second and third article gifts." As he was preaching this, my mind was drawn to the beautiful thanksgiving prayer that begins the Prayer of the Church many Sundays:
"Almighty God, we give thanks for all Your goodness and bless You for the love that sustains us from day to day. We praise You for the gift of Your Son, our Saviour, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. We thank You for the Holy Spirit, the Comforter; for Your holy Church, for the means of grace, for the lives of all faithful and just people, and for the hope of the life that is to come. Help us to treasure in our hearts all that You have done for us, and enable to us show our thankfulness in lives that are wholly given to Your service."
A visitor remarked on her way out how much she enjoyed the service, singing the old hymns and that wonderful Matins service.
We headed home and prepared the pre-feast. The gamble was the stuffed mushrooms. I tried something new. I emptied out the stems as usually, threw them in the microwave and heated them. Meanwhile I fried up some sausage patties and chopped them up. Then in the blender I put the stems, the sausage, some parmesan and some Merlot. I worked it to a fine mush and then stuffed the caps with that and topped with swiss cheese. They were really good!!!
After the pre-feast, we sang. We pretty well covered the Advent and Christmas sections of the hymnal, I believe. Lots of fun!
Then the feast. It wasn't the turkey that gave trouble. Cindi has mastered the art of the quick cook turkey. It was the potatoes. Or more precisely, the stove. It has a little button we'd not noticed before that allows a certain burner to be set to simmer! And that's where we were trying to cook the potatoes! Once we realized what was wrong, and fixed it, and finished up the taters, we were 1/2 hour behind the rest of the food. Ah well, it was still all plenty hot and tasty.
We did some clean up, some more singing, and then had room for the pie - this was a true Weedon thanksgiving. Only nine people present, but no less than four pies AND a cheesecake. Reminded me very much of our gatherings at home - we each had a different favorite pie and mom would bake one for each of us!
After our guests departed, we rested, ate a bit more, and rested more. A totally enjoyable day indeed. We're also very much looking forward to Christmas this year when Cindi's Aunt Sandy and her son and daughter-in-law will join around the table. Our dining room table used to belong to Cindi's grandmother, Nana, and we have so many wonderful memories of gathering around it at her house in Bethesda, Maryland for different holidays or just to play games. It's neat to think that at Christmas many of those who used to feast regularly at that table with feast there again. Well, enough rambling. A blessed thanksgiving to you all!
21 November 2007
25 November 1994
Dear Lauren, David, and Rebekah,
Your grandmother died today. She was a wonderful woman. I only wish you could really have known her. She would have loved you so. She always loved babies, especially her grandbabies. Children, she didn’t have an easy life. Not ever.
When she was your age, Rebekah, about three, she got very sick with a disease called polio. It used to be a very dreadful thing. In the worst cases, it killed people outright. It crippled mom. It caused her one leg to be shorter than the other. The doctors actually sowed some lamb-skin onto her heel, but it didn’t help much. So, as a little girl she could never run and play like the other children. Instead, when they would want to do things she couldn’t do, she’d take a book and sneak away into the living room. She loved to read! Her Aunt Annie always told her: “With a good book you can go all around the world and never leave your chair.”
She loved all sorts of books, but especially poetry. Not high brow and sophisticated stuff, you know. Just your garden variety - Robert Louis Stevenson and Eugene Field and such.
She was her daddy’s little girl. She idolized him. He meant so much to her. I remember so well when he died and how sad she was. Now I know something of what she was going through, little ones. She told me many stories of what a wonderful father he was. He worked very hard, as both a farmer and (I think) a carpenter. But he took time every night to help his children with their homework around their dinner table. And Christmas was a day devoted entirely to the children. No work that day! Well, not exactly. He’d get up extra early to get the cows milked and all, but then the rest of the day was theirs. He’d get down on the floor and play right along with them.
She must have partaken alot of her father’s spirit, because when I was little she was my toy. Oh, we played every game imaginable. Even though she was crippled, she’d still get outside and try to play hopscotch and ball with me. She taught me a fun game called “One, two, three, O’Leary.” I want to teach it to you guys. I’d forgotten all about it til today.
She was very proud of her family background. Her last name was Mastin, but the heritage she treasured was the Field line. The Field family had come over from England in the 1600’s. Your grandmother grew up on the property that had been their's. In fact, you still have two great aunts that live on that property. She learned all about the Fields from her dear Aunt Annie, or Nannie, as she most often called her, and also from her Cousin A and A’s daughter Ruth. Cousin A actually remembered the family plantation house before it was burned down in the Civil War. A remembered sitting on the stairs and peaking downstairs as they had dances in the ballroom (with a marble floor, no less!).
I wish I could remember all her stories about the Fields and pass them on to you. She told of Grandpappy Joe, and how after the mansion had burned down, he had a special brick in the fireplace at a place called Speaks where he’d hidden his gold coins. He’d pull them out at night and count them. He even let A play with them. But they were kept hidden so that the Yankees wouldn’t get their hands on them.
Grandpappy Joe had many children, and one of his sons was named Daniel. We have his box sitting in our living room! Almost impossible to read it anymore, but on the bottom of the box is Daniels’ name and infantry number. Daniel was killed at the battle of Chancellorsville. The old black slave who was the blacksmith took the wagon and went to get Massa’ Daniel’s body and bring him home. In the family Testament we have you can still read about Grandpappy Joe’s and Uncle Daniel’s funeral.
Your grandma had a lot of sorrow in her life. She had many sisters: Francis, Ada, Kitty, and Emma. Also three brothers: William and Jimmy and Seldon. William and Jimmy were twins, and when they were born everyone expected William to live and Jimmy to die. You see, Jimmy was scrawny and sickly, but William looked healthier. So, they spent all their time on William, making sure he’d make it. But would you believe it? William died. Jimmy lived. And what a character he grew up to be. But your grandma lived to see him die too. He died right about the time that David was born. And then Seldon - how that broke all their hearts. He was only 16 years old. And was the sweetest kid, by all accounts. One day (it was thanksgiving time) he went out into the woods hunting, and tripped as he jumped over a stream. His foot got caught in a root, near as they can figure out, and his gun went off. He was shot through the head. Her dad was never the same, she said. Seldon’s dog used to wait for him to come home, and it just sat there, lost and lonely for days, not understanding what had happened. I think the dog’s name was Tippy.
Your grandma’s mother died in our house in Maryland in 1951, right before Uncle Maupin was born. When the ambulance pulled up and they took your great grandmother out, covered with a sheet, they thought it was your grandma who had died in childbirth! She missed her mom, but she was always closer to her dad. But this was an added sorrow to him. I remember him most as a very sorrowful man. He died when I was only six or so.
Your grandma and grandpa were really cute together. Every night when he got home from work, he’d yell downstairs: “I’m home sister!” To which she’d respond: “Yea, well what do you want me to do about it?” When I was still fairly little, my brothers and sister had moved out and gotten married, so I remember a lot of time spent with my mom and dad by myself. We loved to watch T.V. together. My daddy and I watched a lot of detective shows - Hawaii Five O and Cannon. Mom loved the game shows - Jeopardy and such. We also loved to play cards together. We went through one winter when I think we played Rook darn near every night.
What else can I tell you about your grandma? Let me tell you the stories that went with some of her things. The two old bricks we have in our house were part of the family plantation house. They came over from England as the ballast in Governor Spotswood’s ship. The plantation house is off the old Kelly’s Ford road outside of Richardsville. Mom collected and treasured these bricks for the story they told of the past. The Yankees were camped out on the white rocks on the Kelly’s Ford road when they burned down the big house. It was being used as a confederate hospital.
The daguerreotypes we have in mom’s doll cabinet are pictures of the Fields. Uncle Daniel is the young man with his fiance. He was only 19 when he died. He would be your great, great, great, great Uncle! And the other is your great, great, great, great Uncle William. He never married, but pretty much became the family head after Grandpappy Joe’s death. When my Grandma Bess heard what my mom and dad had named me (William Chancellor), she said: “Might have known you’d name him after one of those damn Fields. Mom said she hadn’t even thought of Uncle William Field!
Let me see, what other treasures are there? The little blue plate with the crack in it. It was also a Field possession, and I believe it also came from England. The salt cellar likewise. The old teapot was my mother’s grandmother’s wedding gift. Bette Hume Mastin, she was. Mom had her middle name.
There’s a little purse in your mom’s doll cabinet. It’s made of something like straw. It’s from Hawaii. It was sent to your grandma by her great Aunt Harriet. Aunt Harriet was actually your great grandma’s aunt. Aunt Harriet met her husband at the great World Exposition in St. Louis, 1904. They got married and moved to Hawaii. Aunt Harriet wrote to mom about being able to lie in bed in the morning and reach her hand out the window and pluck a bananna for breakfast!
The two brass candlesticks are treasures from your grandmother’s mother’s side of the family. I believe that they came from Europe too, from Scotland. On that side, if you go back several generations, your ancestors were actually Stuarts, and born in the castle in Edinburgh. But that was a long, long time ago! I’m just not sure how old the candlesticks are. When I was a little boy they sat on the parlor organ in Aunt Fanny’s living room. But my mom really wanted them so that she would have something to pass on to us from her mother’s family.
Part of her mother’s family was rather poor, and lived in West Virginia. Your grandmother’s Uncle Seldon worked at the mining village’s store. Your grandma went to visit him and Aunt Louise when she was a young woman and never forgot it! The mountains were so steep and the village was perched right on its side. The miners had a hard life, but they sure did seem to live it up. I wish I knew where in West Virginia they lived, but if mom ever told me, I have long since forgotten.
Your grandmother was deathly afraid of snakes and of fire. When she was little girl, one of their neighbors was burning sagebrush out in the field in the autumn, and their little daughter somehow got caught in the fire, and burned. Mom never seemed to forget it. I don’t know why she was so afraid of snakes, but she certainly was. Once my cousin George and I killed a poor, little garter snake down in Buzzard’s roost and we took it back to the house and we chased mom all around with it! Very naughty because mom couldn’t run very fast. Another time I remember George and I found a little shrew out in the yard, dead. My cousin Gary emptied its insides out and stuffed it with cotton. We then told Aunt Fanny to close her eyes and we rubbed it all over her face. She thought it was the softest powderpuff she’d ever felt, but then did she hollar when she realized what it was!
Other treasures: my father’s grandfather (Thomas Pemberton) made the little walnut washstand in moma and papa’s room. That used to stand in Grandma Bess’s hall, and I asked her if I could have it when I was about your age, David. She said yes, and mom was so glad, because mom loved little tables and always admired that one. If you look at it carefully you will see that the legs are each a little different in size. It was all handmade! He also made the table with the two big planks and the big white bench we have on the front porch.
From mom’s family also is the little table in the library with the shelving for books underneath. That belonged to your great Aunt Gee. She was really named Julia Lee and was my mom’s aunt, her father’s sister. She was a lady if ever there were one! I still have the sweet letter she wrote to me when she heard that Daddy had cancer. The table had been hers, but she had given it to mom long ago. It was always in our house on Munson Street. When I was little it used to have a whole pile of golden books in it! Mom loved books. Our house on Munson Street had a redwood bookcase my dad made for my mom (she loved the wood, and it was only after they made it they realized how soft it was and not suitable really for a book case, but pretty!!!) and it was always filled with books. I’ve only managed to collect a few of them. I remember it had two sets of encyclopedias, one Funk and Wagnel and the other I can’t recall, a little red set, and on the other side of the room there’d be the World Book Encyclopedia. Mom and I used to read these as regular entertainment! Just turn the pages, look at the pictures and read the articles.
Your grandma spent a lot of time in the kitchen. She didn’t believe in forcing a child to eat what they didn’t want, so she’d take orders for what everyone wanted for dinner and then make it up. Sometimes we’d end up eating three different things. Breakfast was a big deal with her and not just in the morning. She’d whip up a batch of pattycakes (never called pancakes) faster than anyone I’ve ever seen and they were always delicious. Her corn-bread likewise. She liked to make sure her meat was done, which really means black! She made phenomenally good pie crust and every once in a while she’d make us light-rolls. Divine!!! [I broke off here and never finished these ramblings, but they were on my mind the day mom died.]
She was such a wonderful woman and I miss her very much. One of the sadnesses of being born to a woman of 43 and a man of 40 is that you have every chance of growing up without your parents. My father was gone when I was but 19. My mother lasted a bit longer, but Alzheimer's took her from us long before death did.
She was a tease, a true introvert (she really disliked public gatherings, probably more than I do!), a cross-word puzzle whiz and she loved to do jigsaw puzzles too. She read and delighted in poetry. She was crippled from the age of three by polio and taught us by her silent suffering that we were not to complain of pain or ask for sympathy. She loved her family with a great devotion and she gave us the gift of love - unconditional and constant.
I think with shame of the things we did to her. I remember chasing around Aunt Emma's with the snake George and I killed. She was terrified of them, and she could barely hobble at the best of times, but we made her move with that poor garter snake we killed down in Buzzard's Roost.
Thirteen years. And in that time my children have grown up and known only one grandmother. I wish they could have known the other too. She loved them as babies, and she would have loved them adults. Dearest Mom, God grant you the joy of His presence, the peace of His love!
My "thanks be to God" list this year:
Thanks be to God for the Holy Eucharist!
Thanks be to God for Holy Baptism!
Thanks be to God for the Divine Service!
Thanks be to God for the gift of music!
Thanks be to God for the unspeakable gift of His Son and His Spirit!
Thanks be to God for our parish family!
Thanks be to God for the heartaches and troubles that teach us to turn to Him!
Thanks be to God for friends and acquaintances, including those we get to know on the net!
Thanks be to God for my wife, and each of my children (including Dean)!
Thanks be to God for Jo and Dave, who are like the best "inlaws" in the whole world!
Thanks be to God for all my brothers and sisters: Butch and Bonnie, Sis and Jimmy, Peggy, Maup and Nancy, Deb and Doug, Dee and Keith!
Thanks be to God for nieces and nephews and grand nieces and nephews - too many to count, but each a precious gift!
Thanks be to God for giving us HIs Sacred Scriptures!
Thanks be to God for the clarity of the Lutheran Symbols!
Thanks be to God for the joy of being together as His family - a foretaste of an eternal "homecoming"!
Thanks be to God for everything and everyone!
Thanks be to God forever!
20 November 2007
What does this "outward training" refer to? As usual, if we go to the Large Catechism it can give some help: "Since this treasure is entirely presented in the words, it cannot be received and made ours in any other way than with the heart. Such a gift and eternal treasure cannot be seized with the fist. Fasting, prayer, and other such things may indeed be outward preparations and discipline for children, so that the body may keep and bring itself modestly and reverently to receive Christ's body and blood. Yet the body cannot seize and make its own what is here given in and with the Sacrament. This is done by the faith in the heart, which discerns this treasure and desires it."
Now by mentioning, "for the children" Luther by no means suggests that as adults we give it up! He means that we train the young people that in this way we discipline our bodies to reverence the great gift of the Supper. It is a way of confessing bodily that "all we need is the Eucharist - the very Body and Blood of our Savior, given for our salvation." Coming hungry to the table we remember the Beatitude He once spoke: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled."
And yet no amount of calling for the reverent and appropriate use of fasting can ignore the words of our Lord Himself that calls us to eat and to drink His body and blood for our forgiveness. He does not add "you who have kept the fast." His forgiveness is for all and is received by all who approach the Holy Sacrament in true faith. This ought not in any way lead us to neglect the "bodily training," but rather to put it in its place. Our body can use this reminder that the hunger behind all hungers is ultimately the hunger for Christ Himself.
Surely, surely it is possible to exhort our people to the discipline of the flesh without in any way falling into the error of assigning merit to our "fine outward training."
O Lord our God, You have commanded the light to shine out of darkness, and You have again brought us to Your house of prayer to praise Your goodness and ask for Your gifts. Accept now in Your endless mercy the sacrifice of our worship and thanksgiving, and grant us those requests which will be wholesome for us. Make us children of the light and of the day and heirs of Your everlasting inheritance. Remember, O Lord, according to the multitude of Your mercies, Your whole Church, all who join with us in prayer, all our sisters and brothers wherever they may be in Your vast kingdom who stand in need of Your help and comfort. Pour out upon them the riches of Your mercy, so that we, redeemed in soul and body and steadfast in faith, may ever praise Your wonderful and holy name; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and always through all ages of ages. Amen. (Lutheran Worship, page 195)
Where the Lutherans continued the elevation it had the meaning of a confession of the real presence of our Lord's body and blood. Dr. Luther spoke of it this way: "We do not want to abolish the elevation because it goes so well with the German Sanctus and signifies that Christ has commanded us to remember him. For just as the sacrament is bodily elevated, yet Christ's body and blood are not seen in it, so he is also remembered and elevated by the word of the sermon and is confessed and adored in the reception of the Sacrament. In each case he is apprehended only by faith; for we cannot see how Christ gives his body and blood for us and even now daily shows and offers it before God to obtain grace for us." AE 53:82.
The practice was abolished in Wittenberg before Luther's death and he speaks of it differently at different times. Where it really came into force and into its own was in Lutheran Brandenburg, where in the 17th century the prince tried to smuggle in Calvinism. The Lutherans there insisted on the elevation as a vital confession of the real presence of our Lord's Body and Blood and even added some words to the action: "Dear Christian, this is the true body of your Lord, born of Mary, and this is the true blood of Christ, poured out for you upon the cross." This was called the Ostentatio. The Calvinists, of course, screamed bloody murder over the practice.
In our day and age, the elevation with the adoration of the Lord's body and blood, is a fine protest against "receptionism" which would teach that our Lord's almighty words do not effect His presence until the bread and wine are bodily tasted. Rather, the Lutheran Symbols, quoting St. John Chrysostom, speak of our Lord's body resting upon all the altars of Christendom! Thus, we kneel before Him to whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, and we confess - as Luther says - that though hidden from our eyes, He is present in His body and blood among us, just as He has promised.
By the way, the practice really isn't ancient, but medieval. It arose in the centuries before the Reformation, where it was regarded as THE high point of the Mass - the moment at which the "sacrifice" was offered to the Father. This explains the Lutheran ambivalence to the practice. If I may put it so, we do not elevate in the Lutheran Church so that the sacrifice is lifted for God to see (Christ presents Himself to the Father ceaselessly as our sacrifice), but so that the people may see, adore, and confess Him who comes to us under the appearance of bread and wine.
19 November 2007
The glasses from kitchen light and dining room chandelier are in the dish washer for their holiday shine up.
I've still got some more clean-up chores today, and then the cooking will start in earnest. This year we'll be joined by Dave and Jo (Cindi's mom and dad) and a friend of theirs, plus all the kids (Lauren and Dean are eating here for lunch and then the Herberts for dinner). Everyone will come over just after we sing Matins at St. Paul's - where we will also get to hear our former principal, Richard Rikli, preach for the first time. Matins usually is only about 45 to 50 minutes max, and the service starts at 9 a.m.
What's on the menu? Appetizers: shrimp cocktail, cheese and crackers. Main course: Turkey (23 lbs, I believe, and Cindi found a great "fast cook" method for it last year), mashed potatoes (for non-Atkins) and mashed cauliflower (for Atkins), gravy, southern "cornbread" dressing (an experiment to make it Atkins friendly will substitute almond "cornbread" for the usual cornbread - we'll see! No promises on that one!), cranberry sauce, sweet potato souffle, biscuits (non-Atkins), coconut muffins (Atkins again), and what we call "Jenn's Salad" (a great layered salad that we first gobbled up when Jennifer Rethwisch served it). Desserts: Pumpkin pie, cherry pie, chocolate pie, pumpkin cheesecake. Yeah, I think it SHOULD feed 9 people. ;)
Of course there also be coffee, tea, various wines and beer, and soda (ick!). I trust it will be joy-filled feast indeed. Hoping that everyone else also has a great day for singing thanks to Him who supplies us with such an abundance of food and drink, and the good company and family with whom to enjoy those gifts!
November 29 - St. Andrew, Apostle (transferred)
December 6 - Commemoration of St. Nicholas of Myra, Pastor
December 13 - Commemoration of St. Lucia, Martyr
December 20 - St. Thomas, Apostle (transferred)
After Christmas, we'll observe:
December 27 - St. John, Apostle and Evangelist
January 3 - Commemoration of Blessed Wilhelm Loehe, Pastor (transferred)
After Epiphany, we'll observe:
January 10 - Commemoration of Sts. Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa, Pastors and Confessors
January 17 - The Confession of St. Peter (transferred)
January 24 - The Conversion of St. Paul (transferred)
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."
"Beloved in the Lord, as we begin the season of Advent, let this wreath remind us that Jesus Christ came to conquer the darkness of sin and to lead us into the light of His glorious kingdom. As the prophet Isaiah says, 'The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.'"
The prayer in the rite includes the petition:
"enkindle in our hearts the fire of Your love that we may receive You with joy and gladness."
18 November 2007
17 November 2007
16 November 2007
We were unable to get into historic Holy Cross Lutheran Church, but it looked like it had an interesting, if much more humble, interior. Ah well, perhaps next time. It's funny, I couldn't find a sign identifying it as LCMS, but the board outside announced the schedule for "Divine Service" and I told Cindi: "That's LCMS." Funny how "Divine Service" has become an identifying term - the old Gottesdienst made a revival under LW and now LSB.
As we were wandering the streets, we found a candle store that had some bayberry scented candles. We've noticed they are harder and harder to find. We picked some up. To me that is THE way a candle should smell - my mother (of blessed memory) always had bayberry candles in the house. She loved the scent too, and so it always is to me the smell of the holidays at home. Give me that combined with the pungent scent of a cedar Christmas tree and I can close my eyes and hear all the old voices again. Isn't it odd how smell does that for faster than any other sense?
15 November 2007
14 November 2007
Earlier in the year I'll be doing two other seminars: one for a circuit in Colorado on the liturgy (February) and one in Kansas at Pastor Brockman's church, Christ Lutheran, in Hutchinson.
Have I ever told you how much I hate flying???
13 November 2007
I am thinking particularly of how it is the chorale "Wake, Awake" that sets the tone for the liturgy in the Lutheran Church for the Last Sunday of the Church year in a way that only touches upon the Gospel reading (Ten Virgins) but transforms it into a message of utter joy.
Jo (my mother in law) and I headed out shopping today. We left at 9:30 and didn't get back till after 3. We had a very successful trip. We ended up crossing the river and shopping in St. Louis. She got a few things she has been looking for and I basically finished my Christmas shopping - thanks to her input. I'm going to make it a tradition to bring her along each year - she really helped! We lunched at Olympia's - my favorite Greek restaurant in St. Louis. She tried their spanikopita and I munched on saganaki, flamed right there at the table. Opah! I am so thankful to have the shopping taken care of before the madness breaks loose after Thanksgiving. Just stocking stuffers left to tend to and for that, there's always Wallyworld.
Objective #1 for vacation: checked off.
12 November 2007
In summary, that would mean eating 1.5 meals on Dec. 5 and 7, 12 and 14, 19, 21, and 22; and on the 7th, 14th, 19th, 21st and 22nd, refraining from all flesh meats and wine. As Lutherans we remember that this fasting is not something done to curry favor with God (favor already freely granted us in His Son), but something we may freely join in doing to help subjugate our sinful flesh and teach it that "man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."
But it was delightful to see him. I miss the times that Karl, Nancy, Cindi and I got to sing for church. We sang together "E'en So" by Manz and also the beautiful Easter hymn "The Angel Cried to the Lady Full of Grace." The Gregorys were so much fun to sing with.
Karl told me today that they've got another grandchild on the way - this time from his son's wife. He's serving a couple vacancies now. May the Lord grant them a full-time call soon!
11 November 2007
10 November 2007
...for the gift of music and the joy of singing together.
...for the adoption of Matthew Jacob by the heavenly Father through the washing of rebirth.
...for all who have given or continue to offer faithful service in the Armed Forces.
...for the Divine Service that nurtures in us the life that can never end.
...for children practicing for Christmas programs and learning carols.
...for the rain of leaves in autumn.
...for John being on two nearby call lists.
...for Matthew's safe surgery.
...for the mercy that never fails, the love that sustains us in Christ Jesus.
Children 6-12 $3
Under 6 Free
And don't neglect to feast on the ETERNAL fare that God serves up before the Sausage Supper! That's at 7:45 and 10.
P.S. If Piepkorn is right that the kingdom of God does not consist in buying each other's pies is true; it also true that EATING each other's pies is nevertheless a veritable taste of the Kingdom here on earth!