31 May 2011

First Lightning Bugs

of the season spotted tonight while taking Lucy out for her necessities.  Last year seemed like we had LOTS of them around.  I'm curious if this year will follow suit.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

In our spiritual journey from the font to the grave, we walk before God the Father as beggars.  Yet that is only half the story.  We may be beggars, but, paradoxically, we also associate with the holy angels.  This wonderful paradox is confessed most clearly in the Divine Service by the curious juxtaposition of the Kyrie, "Lord, have mercy," and the Gloria, "Glory to God in the highest."  -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 30.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Christ and grace are not preached so that people may remain in their sins.  On the contrary, the Christian doctrine teaches:  You have been released from captivity not so that you may do what you please but in order no longer to serve sin. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Homily for Ascension (HP II:122,3)

Patristic Quote of the Day

"He has converted my soul: He has led me forth in the paths of righteousness, for His Name's sake" Psalm 22:3. He has brought me forth in the narrow ways, wherein few walk, of His righteousness; not for my merit's sake, but for His Name's sake. -- St. Augustine on Psalm 23

REMINDER: Ascension Day - "that He might make us partakers of His divine life" (Preface)

The Feast of our Lord's Ascension into heaven will be celebrated this Thursday (June 2) at St. Paul's with Divine Service at 7:15 a.m.  Join us for the bright joy of this day!

Hail thee, festival day,
Blest day to be hallowed
Day when our risen Lord
Rose in the heavens to reign.

He who was nailed to the cross
Is ruler and Lord of all people.
All things created on earth
Sing to the glory of God.

Daily the loveliness grows,
Adorned with the glory of blossom;
Heaven her gateway unbars,
Flinging her increase of light:

Hail thee, festival day!
Blest day to be hallowed forever;
Day when our risen Lord
Rose in the heavens to reign.
--LSB 489 (Fortunatus, c. 530-609 AD)

30 May 2011

Day's Wrap

Up early this morning to Edwardsville to let Roger kick our rears at Bootcamp.  Home for breakfast and then began setting up pool - I don't know how we'd do it without David's help!  Then off to hospital to see Mike; stopped at store for some groceries and filled up the tank on the way home.  Coming home, noted the blue, blue sky against the backdrop of Hamel Coop with the flag waving in front for Memorial Day - wished I had time to stop and capture the picture.  It'd be a classic for Old Route 66.  Day concluded with dinner with David and Meaghan, Crys and Scott and Erin.  We had burgers, ribs, Jen's layered salad, jello salad, chips and such, and topped it off with ice cream and brownies.  Afterwards, a round or six of pinochle.  Winning is such an irrelevant detail, don't you think?  The big thing is having a good time and making the women feel important.  We always strive for that.  Now it's 9 and I'm already ready for bed.  Did I really used to stay up all hours of the night?  Not any more - that's for sure.

29 May 2011

Quote of the Day

from Pr. Buetow:  "How good to have a Lord whose first miracle was an open bar at a wedding!" 

Kettner/Kress wedding homily

Evermore and evermore.  When the Bride insists, absolutely insists, that at her wedding we have to sing all about Jesus, about our Lord’s birth forever blessed when the Virgin full of grace by the Holy Ghost conceiving bore the Savior of our race, and that babe, the world’s Redeemer first revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore, it’s as though she thinks the big thing happening today is Jesus and what He did and does and NOT herself, the beautiful bride, or her handsome and proud groom, now, not even the red- or silver-vested fathers who are dancing for joy today.  It’s as though you two think your wedding is all about Jesus.  How radical can you get?
But you’re thinking runs right with Paul in today’s reading from Ephesians, who seems to think that weddings and marriages are really all about Jesus too.  Notice how he brings it all to that point when he says:  “This mystery is profound, but I am saying it refers to Christ and the church.”  This being made one flesh.
That is, no one gets what God’s up to today in joining Karen and Bryan as one until one sees that they are stand-ins – both of them – for something far bigger. 
Bryan, you are in the place of Jesus today, and so your Lord crowns you as king of a new family.  It’s just that the crown he places on your head is like unto His own:  a servant’s crown of thorns.  Today Jesus names you chief servant of your wife and future family.  And He bids you take as your example how His own love for the Church.
His is a love that does not delight in pointing out His church’s failings and sin; rather, it is a miraculous love that gives Himself up for her so that He can present His Church to Himself, sanctified, cleansed, in splendor without any wrinkle or blemish, holy and pure.  He sees her that way because He sees her through His own self-giving sacrifice.  So Jesus summons you today, Bryan, to love Karen with that sort of love – to learn to see her as pure and holy in your sight as she is in His, and to treasure, honor, and keep her. 
And Karen, you get to stand in the place of the Church.  So when St. Paul lays on you the big submission word, you know he’s not being a male chauvinist pig.  He’s talking about you joyfully receiving the gifts that the Lord has commanded Bryan to serve you.  When taken up into the Lord we are miles away from Bryan lounging in his chair and commanding you:  “Yo, wife!  Go get my beer!”  No, that’s not the Lord’s way at all.  But just as Bryan is called to see you as pure and holy as the Lord declares you to be; so you must come to see him through the lens of the Lord.   To respect and honor Him as though He were Christ to you.
Now since neither of you will live up to that in its fullness due to the fact that both of you still have that nasty old Adam running around inside wanting his own way and sometimes getting it, the vital importance of forgiveness.  For it is forgiveness that will hold your marriage together when all else fails.  The world foolishly thinks that the glue of marriage is the feeling of being in love – and you can look all around you and see how well that nonsense works.  Rather, it is Christ’s forgiveness poured out on each of you in abundance, from your Baptism, to your hearing of absolution and your partaking of the Eucharist.  In all of them, Jesus gives you forgiveness for all your sin and even more – forgiveness which you will share with each other and that will keep you together through the most trying and difficult times.  He has forgiveness bigger than any screw-ups you will inflict upon each other – and in that forgiveness – seeing each other as God has declared the other to be, your marriage will not only survive – it will grow and flourish. 
So you were right that it was all about Jesus and so why not:  Of the father’s Love begotten?  It’s HIS story that shapes your wedding and that will shape your marriage, and as you live in this Jesus way toward each other – Bryan fulfilling something of the role of Christ; Karen fulfilling something of the role of the Church – as you live a marriage like this, people notice that you’re weird, different, not normal.  And when they want to know why and what gives, you have the answer right at hand:  It’s because everything – including our marriage – isn’t about US, it’s about Jesus!  Jesus, whose death has wiped our sin and whose resurrection has given us a life that no death will ever be able to take from us – evermore.  So….
Christ to thee with God the Father and oh Holy Ghost to Thee, hymn and chant and high thanksgiving and unending praises be, honor, glory and dominion and eternal victory.  Evermore and evermore.  Amen.


28 May 2011

Rogate this week

and so Easter is fast waning.  This Thursday is the Feast of the Ascension (7:15 p.m. at St. Paul's - you all come now, you hear?).  Unique to have the day (Rogate) named from the Gospel reading rather than the Introit - "Ask already, will ya?" might be a rough paraphrase.  This is the Sunday when the Church focuses on the joy of prayer in the name of Jesus.  Tonight and tomorrow we'll sing all nine stanzas of Luther's Vater Unser.  Don't worry - the cantor relieves the congregation a bit with doing the even stanzas.  And so the Easter season wends to its closing.  On Thursday we'll move the Paschal Candle stand from sentry duty at the Altar back to the Baptismal font.  Then one more week of Easter joy till its fulfillment in the Day of Pentecost, which closes out the "Semester Domini." That means "plain old" DS 3 comes back - and how we'll welcome it!  The Kyrie and Gloria and Alleluia - all back to "normal."  Easter was overwhelmingly joyous, but we know that it is but a foretaste.  The 50 days are a bit of heaven on earth, but we're not in the Parousia yet, no matter how joyously we anticipate it.  Back to kneeling to receive our Lord's body and blood; back to the regular liturgy; back to pilgrim church.

This is one of our own John Klinger's pet projects...

...and it looks to be shaping up amazingly:  Walther. Check out the trailer!  John will be leading the Bible Class on this when it is released this fall.  I'm eagerly looking forward to it.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Through the attacks of the evil one we are drawn further out of ourselves and deeper into Christ. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 22.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

These two things, diligently preaching and earnestly praying, pierce the devil's heart. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Homily for Rogate (HP II:110).

Patristic Quote of the Day

For, behold, we take divine Scripture, and thence discourse with freedom of the religious Faith, and set it up as a light upon its candlestick. -- St. Athanasius, Discourse I Against the Arians (par. 9)

This morning before the wedding rehearsal...

...Pr. Kress baptized his youngest granddaughter.  He and Lisa look mighty proud:

Some Fascinating Advice...

...from Pr. David Petersen on pastoral social conventions in the LCMS.  I smiled as I read it and thought how Pr. Plvan will never be "George" to me - he will always be Pr. Plvan.  Same with Pr. Lobien.  Same with Dr. Nagel. 

27 May 2011

Pool Time!

Yeah, it's still a bit cold outside, but we hope to get the pool up this weekend.  We picked up a new salt-water system at Walmart this evening, with several bags of salt.  We'd gotten a new pool last week.  John Meinzen was right:  the pools last for two years.  The salt water system lasts for about four (we've used our through two pools).  I'm eager to get the new stuff up and going, but it will have to wait till Memorial Day and, boy, oh, boy, do I hope David is available to help sort out the set up and the hoses! And then it would be great if the temp really heats up...

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The devil's attack on us serves to strengthen our faith because it drives us back to God's Word as the only basis for our spiritual life.  We cannot rely on our own resources in the battle against Satan and the powers of darkness.  If we rely on our own wisdom and power, we will fail.  In that situation, our only hope is Christ and His Word.  -- John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 22.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Our need to pray in the face of immanent peril is great, for a Christian is never safe from the devil and his own flesh, from falling into sin and shame. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Homily for Rogate (HP II:106)

Patristic Quote of the Day

He (our Lord) neither suffered Himself to be taken before the time came, nor did He hide Himself when it had come; but gave Himself up to them that conspired against Him, that He might show to all men that the life and death of man depend upon the divine sentence; and that without our Father which is in heaven, neither a hair of man's head can become white or black, nor a sparrow ever fall into the snare. - St. Athanasius, Apologia de Fuga

26 May 2011

Big thanks to Deb

who came out this week to help with Jo's transition from hospital to home (with a trip to the emergency room thrown in there).  It was very kind of her and greatly appreciated. Her calmness and clear-headedness, and her soothing presence make a huge difference.  

I smile because it reminds me of the time that Deb dropped everything and came down to help with Cindi's last pregnancy - while she was herself 8 months pregnant!  A true servant heart - and a big blessing!  Thanks once again, Deb!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is not that we internalize Scripture and assimilate it to our way of being; rather, the Word assimilates us and makes us godly.  We do not use Scripture to make something of ourselves; it remakes us in the likeness of Christ. -- John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 21.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The devil is a scoundrel who furtively sneaks up behind us to see if he can somehow divert us from prayer.  So, we must prepare ourselves to oppose him and allow nothing to deter us.  -- Blessed Martin Luther, Sermon for Rogate (House Postils II:106)

Patristic Quote of the Day

The order too of the words must be considered: went away, stood, sat. For he went away, when he drew back from God. He stood, when he took pleasure in sin. He sat, when, confirmed in his pride, he could not go back, unless set free by Him, who neither has gone away in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of pestilence. -- St. Augustine on Psalm 1, contrasting Adam and our Lord.

25 May 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Since we have been baptized, we join Him in His journey and receive all that He has gained for us in His death and resurrection. -- John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 12.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

He was upholding all things by the power of His Word even when He was the Babe of Bethlehem. -- H. E. Jacobs, *Elements* p. 89.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Since therefore this occasion for exercise is set before us, and such a day as this has come, and the prophetic voice has gone forth that the feast shall be celebrated, let us give all diligence to this good proclamation, and like those who contend on the race course, let us vie with each other in observing the purity of the fast 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, by watchfulness in prayers, by study of the Scriptures, by distributing to the poor, and let us be at peace with our enemies. Let us bind up those who are scattered abroad, banish pride, and return to lowliness of mind, being at peace with all men, and urging the brethren unto love. -- St. Athanasius, Letter 14

Commemoration of the Venerable Bede

Today our Synod commemorates the Venerable Bede. Be sure to check out the Treasury on page 1299. Here's some info from Synod's website (also listed in Treasury):

Bede (673-735) was the last of the early church fathers and the first to compile the history of the English church. Born in Northumbria, Bede was given by his parents to a monastery in Northern England at the age of seven. The most learned man of his time, he was a prolific writer of history, whose careful use of sources provided a model for historians in the Middle Ages. Known best for his book, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, he was also a profound interpreter of Scripture; his commentaries are still fresh today. His most famous disciple, Cuthbert, reported that Bede was working on a translation of John's Gospel into English when death came, and that he died with the words of the Gloria Patri on his lips. He received the title "Venerable" within two generations of his death and is buried in Durham Cathedral as one of England's greatest saints.

Almighty God, grant us to enjoy, even as St. Bede whom we rejoice to commemorate this day, a steadfast faith in Jesus Christ, a cheerful hope in Your mercy, and a sincere love for You and for one another; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

24 May 2011

Petersen was right...

...about that no knead bread.  Delicious.

And McCain wanted to know if I've forsaken Atkins.  Well, sort of.  Cindi and I (it's all Deaconess Sandy's fault) are experimenting about with the Gabriel Method.  So far, we're holding our own, but are eager to see what the next several months bring.  Eat what you like, but add in lots of water and "live" food - fresh fruits and salads and such.  It's not about taking away, but adding in.  So not a "diet" in the sense of restricted eating at all.  More later on that.

But yes, I'm enjoying the no knead bread with the crusty-crusty crusts and swimming in gobs of butter.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Yet we do not possess these gifts by ourselves; we have them only as receive them from Jesus.  We have eternal life by believing in Him and receiving it from Him.  In short, we borrow everything from Him. -- John Kleinig *Grace upon Grace* p. 11.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We, to whom the Word has been entrusted, especially we who are in the ministry, should aid in preserving the Church by preaching pure and wholesome doctrine; and every Christian should likewise help by his prayers. -- Dr. Luther, Homily for Rogate (1534), House Postils, II:110.

Patristic Quote of the Day

There comes a heathen and says, I wish to become a Christian, but I know not whom to join: there is much fighting and faction among you, much confusion: which doctrine am I to choose? How shall we answer him? Each of you (says he) asserts, ' I speak the truth.' No doubt: this is in our favor. For if we told you to be persuaded by arguments, you might well be perplexed: but if we bid you believe the Scriptures, and these are simple and true, the decision is easy for you. If any agree with the Scriptures, he is the Christian; if any fight against them, he is far from this rule. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 33 on Acts

23 May 2011

My Summer Project

Today I signed a contract for a book for CPH, currently entitled:  *All About Jesus- a Lutheranism 101 Book.*  Sigh.  All about Jesus in 33-34,000 words.  RIGHT.  Uh-huh.  Sure.

Well, it shall be a challenge, no question, and a lot of joy to boot - now, Lord, some spare time would be just peachy!

A Bit of Starck's for Easter...

My Savior, Your resurrection yields me a very strong comfort also in my sufferings.  You lay locked in a tomb, but came forth the victor.  Thus the night of my affliction will also pass, and the sun of Your joy, grace, help, and refreshing will rise for me again.  O Jesus, only three days did You remain in the grave.  And so, after my tribulation, the day of deliverance is appointed for me.  After the weary years of my suffering will follow the glad year of jubilee.  You arose in a glorified body.  Your wounds and nail-prints were no longer bloody, nor did they cause You pain, but were radiant like the sun.  Thus my body also will be transformed and glorified when You awaken me from the dust.  My former body will be restored to me; I will be clothed in my former flesh.  (p. 90)

Want another reason

to love our Synodical President?  You go here and listen to the sermon he preached at CTS last Advent.  Law and Gospel, devastating and sweet beyond words.  Enjoy!

What We Ask For...

Since this coming Sunday is "Ask!" Sunday - Rogate - I thought it good to look at the things the Church prays for during the days of Easter in the Divine Service collects.  Some pretty nifty stuff:

Easter Vigil:  "that we may live before You in righteousness and purity forever."
Easter Day:  "that we who celebrate with joy the day of our Lord's resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by Your life-giving Spirit."
Easter Day:  "Grant that all our sin may be drowned through daily repentance and that day by day we may arise to live before You in righteousness and purity forever."
Easter Monday:  "Continue to send Your heavenly gifts upon Your people that they may walk in perfect freedom and receive eternal life."
Easter Tuesday:  "Grant us this peace evermore that trusting in the merit of Your Son we may come at last to the perfect peace of heaven."
Easter Wednesday:  Grant that we who have been raised with Him may abide in His presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory."
Easter 2:  "Grant that we who have celebrated the Lord's resurrection may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God."
Easter 3:  "Grant to Your faithful people, rescued from the peril of eternal death, perpetual gladness and eternal joys."
Easter 4:  "Grant faithfulness to all who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ's Church that they may avoid whatever is contrary to their confession and follow all such things as are pleasing to You."
Easter 5:  "Grant that we may love what You have commanded and desire what You promise, that among the many changes of this world, our hearts may be fixed where true joys are found."
Easter 6:  "Grant that we may think those things that are right and by Your merciful guiding accomplish them."
Ascension:  "so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him."
Easter 7:  "Leave us not without consolation, but send us the Spirit of truth whom You promised from the Father."

What can one say but "through Jesus Christ, our Lord:  AMEN!"

So, yeah, I have this wedding coming up...

...and the crazy bride insists - absolutely insists - that we sing "Of the Father's Love Begotten."  How sweet is that?  GO KAREN!!!!  I am REALLY looking forward to this!  I know that Kress will behave himself, but I'm a tad nervous about Kettner.  I'm seeing how much typology I can squeeze into the wedding homily to give him the opportunity to squirm a bit.


Any reader of this blog knows how greatly I value the Treasury of Daily Prayer - it is simply a wondrous gift to the Church, putting into a single volume so much wisdom and joy from the Church's prayer life and made so accessible that anyone can follow it with ease.  Can it get any better?  Um, yes.  I picked up an iPad a couple months back and have all put abandoned my physical copy of Treasury, using instead the PrayNow app that CPH offers.  It's Treasury without the bulk and without needing to flip pages at all.  You can set up Matins and Vespers to autofill all the propers for each day and voila, the service is before you!  You can even show the Psalms with their markings (or not, if you choose to speak them).  I also have PrayNow on my phone, and it makes for a wonderful way to open a devotion at the start of a meeting or such, or for praying the Litany while you're waiting outside a hospital room or such.  They recently added the short orders for Daily Prayer from Lutheran Service Book to the app as well.  Wonderful stuff - thanks, CPH!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We do not invent spirituality for ourselves; we do not cobble it together to suit our desire for personal fulfillment.  Its power does not depend on us or on our performance.  Rather, we receive our spiritual life from others and are drawn into it, just as we are initiated into family life and marriage.  So I learned to pray and meditate by being taken to church and included in our family devotions. -- John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 9.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Upon the testimony of the Apostles the foundation of the Church was to be laid, and, by the continuance of this testimony, the Church was to be built.  -- H. E. Jacobs, *Elements* p. 128.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Let us hasten as to the Lord, Who is Himself the feast. -- St. Athanasius, Letter 14

Good Words from Mollie...

...right here.  What a great confession of her faith!  She is a member of Pr. Esget's flock - and I can attest:  the worship and preaching there is simply wonderfully refreshing.

22 May 2011

Doc said today

that Jo could come home tomorrow.  She's hyped.  Hope it pans out, because I sure wouldn't want to be the one trying to tell her that it's NOT going to happen.  She's been ready to get out since the day after surgery.

21 May 2011

I think...

...it bodes well for our Synod:  the election of Dr. Rast as the new president of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne.  I listened to the live stream on my iPhone as I stood in the hall outside Jo's room in Anderson Hospital.  (What a great world!)  Larry's appointment, while hardly a surprise, gives me great hope for the future of that Seminary.  We've done a few Issues Etc. shows together in years of yore, and best of all...he likes KRAUTH (and he wrote the intro to *The Conservative Reformation* when CPH republished it).  Blessings on you, Dr. Larry Rast, and may the Lord continue through you to bless His church with many generations of pastor-theologians!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

More important than the "how" of the Eucharist is the "why."  The sacrament of the altar conveys the forgiveness of sins, we say glibly.  But the forgiveness of sins is itself only a symbol of so much more:  "Where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation."  -- A. C. Piepkorn, *The Church* p. 177.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

He made the sacrifice once for all - He applies it constantly. -- C. P. Krauth, *Conservative Reformation* p. 653.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Why therefore do we tarry, and why do we delay, and not come with all eagerness and diligence to the feast, trusting that it is Jesus who calls us? Who is all things for us, and was laden in ten thousand ways for our salvation; Who hungered and thirsted for us, though He gives us food and drink in His saving gifts. For this is His glory, this the miracle of His divinity, that He changed our sufferings for His happiness. For, being life, He died that He might make us alive, being the Word, He became flesh, that He might instruct the flesh in the Word, and being the fountain of life, He thirsted our thirst, that thereby He might urge us to the feast, saying, 'If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink John 7:37.' -- St. Athanasius, Letter 14

On today's bike ride...

...under a mostly sunny sky, I got to see a snapping turtle (crossing the bike path by the swamp), lots of killdeer and red-winged black birds, and I got to smell the honeysuckle that is just blooming.  About a ten mile trip or so (up to DeCamp and back).  Wind was with me all the way, but boy did I feel it when I turned around.

19 May 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Whatever we do that is acceptable to God we do "in Christ."  What we do by our own native powers is only to resist the impulse and to handicap the operation of the Holy Spirit - to quench the Spirit.  Yet the good that we do, even though we do it in Christ, we do.  It is our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, our oblation of serving, our offering of faith.  But because the impulse and the power comes from Christ, because He works both the will and the deed within us, it is still Christ who is the ultimate Priest, the One who is really offering the sacrifice of perfect obedience in deed and in suffering to His heavenly Father.  To deny this or to minimize this, is to deny the biblical doctrine of the unity of the Head and the Body, of the Bride and the Bridegroom. -- A. C. Piepkorn, *The Church* p. 241,242.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

If we find our faith in the Fathers, we must not always expect to find it couched in the terms which we should now employ.  It is their faith rather than their theology we are seeking; and we should compare our faith with their faith rather than our dogmatics with theirs.  Systematic thinking and nicely balanced expression are the growth of ages in the Church.  We must not suppose that the faith of the Church in not found in a particular writer, because we miss many of its now current phrases.... The oak of a thousand years is not a fac-simile of itself at a hundred years; yet less a fac-simile of the acorn from which it grew.  Yet the oak is but the acorn developed, its growth is its history; and if the bond with its past be broken anywhere, the oak dies.  -- C. P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* pp. 726, 727.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Who will be our guide, as we haste to this festival? None can do this, my beloved, but Him Whom you will name with me, even our Lord Jesus Christ Who said, 'I am the Way.' For it is He Who, according to the blessed John, 'takes away the sin of the world. ' He purifies our souls, as Jeremiah the prophet says in a certain place, 'Stand in the ways and see, and enquire, and look which is the good path, and you shall find in it cleansing for your souls Jeremiah 6:16.' Of old time, the blood of he-goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkled upon those who were unclean, were fit only to purify the flesh Hebrews 9:13; but now, through the grace of God the Word, every man is thoroughly cleansed. --St. Athanasius, Letter 14

The End of the World

is supposed to be on May 21, I understand.  For Christians, of course, the end of the world was that moment when the world slew its own Life - the Crucifixion of Him who is the Life of life.  The world ended there - and the signs that our Lord foretold would accompany the great and dreadful day were in evidence.  But we are an Easter people and alleluia is our song.  We simply know that this world that totters on is dead.  It's running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off.  It's dead and doesn't realize it yet!  But sooner or later it WILL keel over.  The whole thing come undone.  And yet in the midst of the dead and dying world, which moves inexorably towards its end, we live our lives from the flesh and blood that rose from the grave on Easter Day, the Pardon of all our sin, the Destruction of all death, the Life that endures to eternity.  It changes how we live in this world forever.  We know that no amount of bandaids we apply to this world as it is can keep it from its final death throes.  But when you belong to an eternal kingdom, all is well, and it is fitting for you to dance through life forevermore (Luther).  Should the end come on the 21st, we'll be joyously going on still:  singing the praises of the Lamb and joining the saints and angels around the throne.  Should the end delay (as I suspect it will), we'll go on:  singing the praises of the Lamb and joining the saints and angels around the throne.  Either way our life goes on, because our life IS Christ and that's a life that endures forever.  What joy to sing together then:

Death you cannot end my gladness,
I am baptized into Christ!
When I die, I leave all sadness
To inherit paradise.
Though I lie in dust and ashes,
Faith's assurance brightly flashes
Baptism has the strength divine
To make life immortal mine.

There is nothing worth comparing
To this life-long comfort sure,
Open eyed my grave is staring,
Even there I'll sleep secure.
Though my flesh awaits its raising,
Still my soul continues praising:
I am baptized into Christ!
I'm a child of Paradise!

18 May 2011

Prayers for Jo...

...for those of you who don't know, Cindi's mom had to have emergency surgery on Saturday evening for a ruptured colon.  She's doing relatively well, but is getting quite restive at the hospital and so very discouraged.  Please, keep her in your prayers that the plumbing starts working again, and that she can experience some peace as she waits.  Yes, Myrtle, we DID sing together tonight.  And pray.  I think it helped calm her, but then the doctor came in and got her all upset again...

Cindi is enjoying...

...tooling about the town in this puppy. Den says that she looks really good in the car and her husband should buy it for her.  NOT HAPPENING.  It's Aunt Sandy's.  She wants to sell it, though.  So, if you have an extra $25,000 sitting around, just let us know - we have the car for you!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Thus the Baptismal and the Eucharistic Creeds agree in their conception of a dynamic church which is simultaneously on the one hand empirical and phenomenal, perceptible with the bodily senses, and on the other hand spiritual, perceptible only in its effects. -- A. C. Piepkorn, *The Church* p. 26.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

With every human external thing alike there is no unity if the parts of a communion are alien in faith.  On the other hand, with every external human thing diverse, there is unity if there be harmony in faith.  Our Church desires uniformity not as if it were itself unity, or could be made a substitute for it, but because it illustrates unity, and is one of its natural tendencies and its safeguard. -- C. P. Krauth, *Conservative Reformation* p. 142.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The saints all their lives long were like men rejoicing at a feast. -- St. Athanasius, Letter 14

17 May 2011

Last thought for the night...

...the proper distinction between law and gospel is mirrored in the proper distinction between this world and the life of the age to come which has invaded this world through our Lord's life, death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit on the Church.

And speaking of Pr. Webber...

...I've only started on this paper, but it strikes me (so far) as very good.  I'd commend it to you - I've downloaded it for myself:  Reformations.

One of the many reasons...

... I love David Jay Webber is his amazing ability in digging up goodies like this, showing the distribution of the Sacrament in the Lutheran Church in days of yore.  The altar boys are holding a housling cloth, lest any of the consecrated elements fall to the ground.  The host was administered on one side and the chalice on the other.  The people moved from the one to the other.

Ah, May...

...and so the joys of longer evenings.  Today, Cindi threw a crock pot meal of roast, potatoes and onions on; I made some no-knead whole wheat bread, a salad and prepared some fresh fruit.  Dave and Sandy, David and Cindi and I sat down for the evening meal.  Then while Cindi, Dave, and Sandy headed their separate ways, I took pity on Lucy and we went for a nice evening constitutional.  Walked 2 miles, listening to the birds (and the traffic - grr), and enjoying the setting sun.  Nothing like singing Evening Prayer to yourself while out on a walk with a hound dog on a fair evening in May.  I love the longer days.  Absolutely love them.

The Introits for Easter III and IV...

...have shared a peculiarity that never struck me before.  How many times have I prayed these Psalms over the years and not noticed this?  In the Introit for Easter III, Psalm 33 is prayed:  "Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield."  Our soul?  One would expect "our souls."  But the Psalmist speaks as though the soul of the those who wait for the Lord is one, not many.  And then again on Easter IV, when Psalm 66 is prayed:  "He has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip."  Our soul, not our souls.  As though one soul inhabited all God's people.  I am reminded of how Jonathan's love for David was described in 1 Sam 18:  "the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul."  Isn't that what happens in the Body of Christ?  Our souls are knit to the soul of great David's Greater Son, and we love Him as our own soul - and so our souls become one, and we can pray the way the Psalmist prays, as we wait for the Lord, that is, as we wait for His joyous appearing.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is logically possible to think of the church as it is in an infinitesimally small moment of time.  Theologically and actually it is not possible to do so.  For in the church we live, we are part of a process, we are being justified before God by God; there is a constant forgiveness of the sins that we - who are simultaneously sinners and holy people - are constantly committing, and we who are being constantly declared holy by God's grace for Christ's sake through faith are constantly becoming holier by God's grace for Christ's sake through faith. -- A. C. Piepkorn, *The Church* p. 25.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The cross is the center of Paradise regained, as the tree of life was the center of the first Paradise.  Christ's body is the organ of the life purchased by His obedience and death.  The Holy Supper is the sacrament of that body, and, through that body, of the life which that body brings. -- C. P. Krauth, The Conservative Reformation, p. 586.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Our doctrine harmonizes with the Eucharist and the Eucharist confirms our doctrine, and we offer to God His own, carefully teaching the communication and union of the flesh and spirit, and confessing the resurrection.  For as the earthly bread, receiving the invocation of God, is no longer common bread, but Eucharist, consisting of two things, an earthly and an heavenly, so also our bodies, receiving the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternal life. -- St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 4, ch. 18

16 May 2011

Thinking about Hearing...

...Jim and Tapani and I ate outside at Olympia's today.  It was a beautiful day for it.  But once again, I felt very hampered by the inability to hear correctly - traffic roaring by and of course, Tapani's British accent.  The weird thing is that when the ear doesn't quite catch what is said, the mind is very quick to supply the lack.  The result is sometimes something so ludicrous as to bring a smile - if only they knew what I THOUGHT they said, but surely didn't say.  The swiftness of the mind to fill the hearing gap is absolutely amazing - and it testifies to the fact that we're rather driven to find MEANING in life (and speech) and where we can't quite figure something out, to IMPOSE meaning upon it (even if the meaning is rather nonsensical).  Logikos.  We're convinced at a very deep level that the world itself is logikos.  Just start losing your hearing and you'll see exactly what I mean!

Delightful lunch today

with Prs. Tapani Simojoki (from England) and Jim Leistico today at Olympia and rejoiced to hear word that project started by Tapani's father has reached its completion:  rendering the Book of Concord in Swahili for the first time!  With 150 million or so speakers of that language, the treasures of the Book of Concord will be open to a whole new audience, thanks be to God!

15 May 2011

And tonight yet another...

...class graduated from Trinity-St. Paul.  I've participated in 18 of those graduations across the years.  This year's class was rather small:  Cody, Sean, Randy, and Brooke.  But they were a delight and we'll miss them a great deal next year and wish them the very best for the years to come.  "Here you heard how much I love you, what I can cure..."

Homily for Jubilate 2011

[Isaiah 40:25-31 / 1 John 3:1-3 / John 16:16-22]

Jubilate Sunday, and so lots of joy running all around the service today.  The Introit kicks it all off with summoning all the earth to shout for joy to God, singing the glory of His name, giving to Him glorious praise for the marvelous works He has done!  We asked in the Collect for the gift of perpetual gladness and eternal joys.  In the first reading, God reveals Himself as the one who doesn’t get tired, worn down, or worn out, and who then gives power – His power – to the faint, the weary, the exhausted, to all who wait for Him.  And when we throw it together with the Epistle and Gospel reading, the waiting for Him takes on new meaning.  We wait for Him who, when He appears, will make us like Him for we will see Him as He is, and this gives us hope, strength, courage and joy.  He’s coming again, and in the meantime, we get to wait for Him in the knowledge that we ARE children of God, really and truly; thorugh Jesus we have a Father who loves us and if the world thinks we’re nothing special, too bad for the world.  It’s wrong.  It will see how wrong it is about us, on that Day.  So joy!  And then right into the Gospel, where Jesus talks about sorrow turned to joy.  About how His disciples won’t see Him for a bit, but then will see Him, and when they do, He says they will have a joy that no one will be able to take from them.  Was He speaking resurrection day – Easter – or Parousia, the Day of His appearing?  Yes.  Where Jesus shows up, there joy.  Joy for His own.  His joy given to them.

He was born in a Lutheran parsonage in Germany.  He grew up to be a heathen, and very famous heathen philosopher.  Friederich Nietzsche.  He made such a telling comment:  “You Christians,” he said, “you lost the world when you lost your joy.”  Youch!  If there’s one thing that’s clear from the pages of the New Testmaent it is this, that when the Gospel came, it came with joy.  

Think of it!  When the Good News was first announced by the Angels on Christmas Eve, how did the Angels characterize it?  “Good news of a great joy for all people.”  The birth of Savior, the gift into our flesh of the Eternal Son, born of Mary.  And the joys didn’t stop with His taking on flesh and blood for us.  Oh, no!  More and bigger joys.  For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame.  And what joy was that?  The joy of being the ransom that set free a world from sin, from death.  The joy of presenting His elect before the Father as His brothers and sisters.  The joy of naming you His very own in the waters of Baptism.  The joy of whispering into your ears the word of His forgiveness.  The joy of feeding into your body His undying body and blood as the gift, guarantee and sign that your sins are gone – answered for whole and entire – and that you now have a life planted inside of you that proved stronger than the grave.  You will live with Him in His joy forever.

Joy overflowing!  And yet Niezsche grew up in a Lutheran parsonage and somehow he missed out on all the joy.  How is possible?  

Understand this, people loved by God, the joy of which the Lord is full is a joy that you cannot manufacture, you can’t make it up on your own.  You can’t will yourself into being the sort of person like St. Paul who would wake up after being unjustly jailed and beaten and start rejoicing and singing hymn of praise to the One who allowed to suffer for the holy name.  How on earth does one become such a person of overflowing joy?

It comes only and always as Gospel gift.  It comes always and only from the Good News of the Great Joy which is now yours.  Yes, you say, very Pollyannaish, Pastor.  There are sorrows out here.  Heartaches galore.  Broken promises.  Broken hearts.  Sick bodies.  Aching joints.  Fractured relationships.  Empty bank accounts.  Maxed out credit cards.  Worn out parents and grumpy kids.  It’s all fine and good for you to rattle on about joy, but my life right now is stressed and sad.  

Ah, dear one!  Did you hear what Jesus said:  “You will have sorrow now.”  He doesn’t deny the sorrow of your life in this age.  Nasty, awful, wicked things happen.  Tragic unspeakable sadness befalls.  It does indeed.  But the key is when He said:  “but your sorrow will turn into joy.”

Oh!  Did you hear that?  He takes hold of your sorrows, your tears, your pains, and He turns them into joy.  How can He do that?  Well, think of it.  Hold onto these three important points.   First, He really has wiped out all your sin by His death on the tree.  He answered for it.  It’s over and done with.  So the shame and the debilitating guilt – that’s wiped right out.  Second, He really has wiped out your death.  Yes, if He doesn’t come first, you will die.  But that’s no biggy.  He’s punched the hole right through death’s stinking gullet and you waltz right through it into His Kingdom.  But third, He’s handed you a promise that He is actually working all things together for your good – to bring you blessing, to see you to your place at His throne.  Sometimes you even get to see how it all works out here, and then you want to laugh for joy at how God pulled off what you would never even have dreamed of.  I call those the Joseph moments – that moment when Joseph’s brothers knelt before him and he lost it.  All the suffering for all those years and wondering what on earth God was up to and where the fulfillment of the promises was?  And lo and behold, God had it all covered every step of the way.  Every suffering of his life was building toward this glorious moment when he got to forgive and provide for his brothers and father.  But sometimes, maybe most times, we don’t get to see our Joseph moments.  The Lord never promised we would in this life.  But He still promised we would see it from the light of the Kingdom, and when we do it will be Joseph’s story all over again.  The heartache, the pain, the grief.  When we see Him, on that glorious day, it will all be joy.  Shining bright! 

The Supper is a constant joy booster. It’s here that the Lord Jesus goes on in His quiet way giving strength to the weary and power to the faint. It’s His promise and guarantee to you that you will see Him again and that when you do, you will see the truth that everything, absolutely everything, worked together to bring you blessing. So how can we not be joyful when we know the ending? Let the tears stream down now for the pain and the grief, but never for one second forget how it will end – you with the saints and angels standing before the throne of God and the Lamb; you clothed in the white garments that He won for you by His suffering and death and that He clothed you in at your baptism; you joined together with all the family of God, never to be separated again forever; you singing and giving glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages! Amen. Joy, my friend! Joy eternal. Amen.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

In sum:  The life of God in the life of the parish implies that we strive in everything to let God be God, that we seek in everything to let the Church be the Church, and that we endeavor in everything to let Christians be Christians. -- A. C. Piepkorn, *The Church* p. 135.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The sacrificial death of Christ is a fact of the past, which abides only in its power, that is, in the reconciliation with God, which is its work.  He, consequently, who partakes of the Lord's Supper worthily, that is, in faith, receives the virtue of the death of Christ, that is, the forgiveness of sins. -- C. P. Krauth, *Conservative Reformation* p. 685.

Patristic Quote of the Day

And he rightly calls the Scriptures "a door," for they bring us to God and open to us the knowledge of God. They make us his sheep. They guard us and do not let the wolves come in after us.

For Scripture, like some sure door, bars the passage against the heretics, placing us in a state of safety as to all that we desire and not allowing us to wander.

And, if we do not undo Scripture, we shall not easily be conquered by our enemies. By Scripture we can know all, both those who are and those who are not shepherds.

-- St. John Chrysostom, cited in Ancient Christian Commentary:  John.  HT:  Pr. ZIP

What A Weekend...

...yesterday began early with the girls arriving at the house to prepare for Robyn's wedding - Robyn (who has been like one of our own for years) got dressed here.  The wedding was at 2.  After pictures (go, Meaghan!!!!) and all, down to the reception to say the blessing, and then back to celebrate the Saturday Eucharist.  Afterwards, went to the reception for a few more minutes, was FORCED to dance with my wife (she dared to use that sad puppy eyes look...irresistible).  Dean and I made an escape home and were just settling in for a good discussion over a couple glasses wine, when Cindi called that Jo was prepping for emergency surgery.  We all took off for the hospital and got to see her before they took her in.  It was 12:40 or so by the time the surgeon came out to tell us she'd suffered a perforated colon and he had had to do an emergency (and reversible) colostomy.  Lord, have mercy!  Without the surgery she'd have died last night, he said.  Thanks be to God that Sandy INSISTED that she was going to the hospital - Jo fought it all the way.  Home and in bed by about 1:30, but of course with much on the mind and heart.  Morning came, but the old body did NOT want to get out of bed.  Glad to hear this a.m. that she was awake and grumpy - wanting her glasses and book.  Off to do Sunday services and Bible Class, though kinda worn out, and yet energized by the Gospel that I got to preach and to teach in Bible Class - but at end of second service, tank was definitely nigh unto empty.  Came home to a brief meal with Sandy and Cindi, and then off to the hospital again.  Jo was looking fairly good today, but understandably more than a tad discouraged and weary over it all.  Keep her in your prayers, it's a rough road.  I left after a short visit and prayer, and came home for a nap.  Cin stayed with Dave and Sandy.  Still ahead today is Evening Prayer for the Kindergarten and 8th Grade Graduation for our school.  That's in about 2.5 hours and the church still needs to be tidied up!  Am looking forward to an EARLY bedtime tonight.  I hope...

11 May 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Who does the believing is better said as who's being given to?  Better to have God running the verbs, that way they are reliable.  To have us run them, they begin to wobble.  All verbs of salvation are in the passive, the divine passive. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Lecture Notes Systems II

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to illumine the mind and kindle the heart to the reception of the great gift which the glorious Savior, present in His own Person, offers to the soul.  The whole Christ is truly present after the incomprehensible manner of that world of mystery and verity in which He reigns.  He applies, to faith, at His table the redemption which he wrought upon the cross.  Through His body and blood He purchased our salvation - truly and supernaturally; through His body and blood He applies salvation - truly and supernaturally.  In Christ's Supper, as in His person, the human and natural is the organ of the divine and supernatural which glorifies it.  As in the redemption, so it is in the Sacrament. -- C. P. Krauth, *Conservative Reformation* p. 465.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The gladness of our feast, my brethren, is always near at hand, and never fails those who wish to celebrate it. For the Word is near, Who is all things on our behalf, even our Lord Jesus Christ, Who, having promised that His habitation with us should be perpetual, in virtue thereof cried, saying, 'Lo, I am with you all the days of the world Matthew 28:20.' For as He is the Shepherd, and the High Priest, and the Way and the Door, and everything at once to us, so again, He is shown to us as the Feast, and the Holy day, according to the blessed Apostle; 'Our Passover, Christ, is sacrificed 1 Corinthians 5:7. -- St. Athanasius, Letter 14

10 May 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Every statement of the Gospel is a corollary of the forgiveness of sins.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Lectures on Systems II

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

O faithful soul, in wonder and amazement adore the marvelous compassion of thy Savior.  Not only does He receive us who were His enemies into His grace, but He also forgives our sins, freely justifies us, brings us into the possession of our heavenly inheritance, makes us like the holy angels, yes, even like unto Himself.  O the blessed citizenship of the saints! -- Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation, XLVII

Patristic Quote of the Day

The Father, possessing His existence from Himself, begot the Son, as we said, and did not create Him, as a river from a well and as a branch from a root, and as brightness from a light, things which nature knows to be indivisible; through whom to the Father be glory and power and greatness before all ages, and unto all the ages of the ages. -- St. Athanasius, Statement of Faith

09 May 2011

This Joyful Eastertide

Not a day but a whole season:  Eastertide, the Feast of Resurrection.  And so we live in the joy of the great 50 Days that will culminate on Pentecost.  We mark these days in several ways at St. Paul's.

1.  We substituted the Kyrie litany (943) for the Kyrie in the Divine Service
2.  We substitute Splendor and Honor (950) as the Hymn of Praise in the Divine Service (mega cool when the bells accompany the organ and the singing!)
3.  We substitute the joyous Celtic Alleluia (951) for the Alleluia in the Divine Service, and the alleluia is lengthened as the gradual is omitted
4.  We stand to receive our Lord's body and blood (we normally kneel for the Eucharist).
5.  We keep singing Easter hymns all through the 50 Days, including our closing hymn:  "He Is Arisen, Glorious Word!"
6.  We bump up the chanting - all collects, the Preface, and the Our Father.
7.  The paschal candle burns like a pillar of fire beside the Altar (until we move it to the Font again at Ascension, but we keep it lit through the day of Pentecost)

All these changes help mark the days as a time of overflowing joy and celebration when the light of a new creation, breaking forth out of the darkness of the grave, beams with gladdening rays into this sad and broken world.  There is a hope beyond all disappointments and grief.  The days of Easter are the days when we feel most at home.  If the joy of Christmas is that God made His home with us; the joy of Easter is that He has opened the way for us to make our home with Him! "When You had overcome the sharpness of death, You opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers."  During these days we bask in the light that streams from that open door. Sins forgiven, death destroyed, fears banished, joys overflowing - who could not love these holy days?

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

How is God toward us?  The answer is only from Calvary - and what Christ alone did.  That which is unique to Him, nothing of us, save our sins that He answers for.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Class Notes, Systems II

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Faith justifies by its receptivity alone.  -- C. P. Krauth, *Conservative Reformation* p. 580.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Let us glorify and worship Jesus, the Word of God, Who, according to His love, came to save us by His cross and is coming again to resurrect Adam's children in the great day when His majesty shall shine forth. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, *Spiritual Psalter* #149

08 May 2011

I think Pr. Vieker first suggested

it to me, but it makes all the sense in the world.  Use the Collect for any of the 3-year series Easter 4 on Miscericordias Domini and use the collect for Miscericordia Domini on Jubilate.  Perpetual gladness and everlasting joys - it goes with NEXT week.  I'm not sure if there is a historical basis for this collect being dislocated, but it sure seems like it's a week off.  I remembered this, of course, as I am PRAYING the traditional Miscericordias collect last night.  I'm thinking that we'll just use it two weeks in a row.  Evangelical freedom and all that jazz.

My mom always used to say

"there's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip."  Well, the kids made omelets for Cindi and the rest of us tonight.  Here's Cindi's omelet.

Lauren was nice, though, and gave THAT one to Dudley (the coon hound) and she made her mom another one.  And yes, they were quite tasty!  Dudley agrees.

It's official...

...Pr. Gleason was installed this morning by President Scharr as Associate Pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church.  Yeah, I was feeling kinda short.  Sort of like the old days with Stu and Brian...

07 May 2011

Dorothy was right...

...there's no place like home.  So wonderful to worship with Divine Service at St. Paul's tonight, and very eager to welcome President Scharr here tomorrow (to preach and to install Pr. Gleason).  And how I dearly love Miscericordias Domini Sunday with the hymns and readings, and the beautiful image in the front of the Church preaching to us a better sermon than I could ever deliver on Christ, our Good Shepherd.  Special joy tonight was seeing Lola and Bo with his beautiful wife and the little Charlie.  Seeing him and thinking of the old Charlie about brought me to tears.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

When salvation is only Christ's doing, nothing of mine, His proprium, it is outside of me - extra nos.  The salvation is altogether His and is as sure as He is sure!  To the extent you insert a reference to yourself you lose the certainty and rob Him of His honor.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, notes on Systems II

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The sphere in which our Lord sacramentally applies His redeeming work is that in which He made it.  That sphere was indeed on this earth, but not of it.  Our Lord made His propitiatory sacrifice; it was a true and real sacrifice, but its truth and reality are not of the nature of this earth, nor comprehended by any of its modes of apprehension.  Judged by the world's standards, the blood of the Lamb of God has not more efficacy than the blood of animal sacrifices.  But there is a sphere of reality in which the shedding of Christ's blood was an actual ransom for the sins of the race.  The atonement is of the invisible world, and hence incomprehensible to us, who are of the visible.  In the same order of verities is the sacramental presence which applies what the atonement provided.  It is a most true presence, but not in the sphere of this life.  -- C. P. Krauth, *Conservative Reformation* p. 460.

Patristic Quote of the Day

In every way God shows that He is a merciful Giver of gifts:  He bestows upon us His love and shows us His kindness.  -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #133

04 May 2011

I have decided, definitely,

that the place to read theology is here:

sitting poolside, with a drink at hand, it was amazing how much the words sank in.  I was working on Tom Pearson's essay as this pic was taken.

Other highlights of the trip?  Walking into the beautiful Mer Caribe and being greeted by schools of fish.  They swam all around us - unbelievable.  Venturing a bit further out and watching the turtles surface and swim by underneath.  Fabulous food; great traveling companions; spectacular views in every direction; no internet and no cell phone (they had it; we chose not to use it); many peaceful hours spent with my beloved wife; winning at cards (oops, Sharon, I couldn't help myself); singing Matins together on one of the verandas; forgetting Dr. Atkins and gaining a few (okay, more than a few pounds); mornings on the beach and afternoons at the pool; wonderful drinks - too many to keep track of "favorites!"

Oh, and my favorite pic of the trip (still learning to use the fabulous camera on the new iPhone) is this rather pensive one of my lovely wife, enjoying a before dinner drink and looking out at the stunning view:

This is what we had to leave...

...to come back home today.  No mas nadamos con las tortugas. ¡Qué triste!