28 October 2015

Not exactly sure...

...whether I've been doing it wrong in the past, or whether recent updates have made a difference, but what an absolute joy to complete a LetUsPray task on iPad and submit to Doctrinal Review and it actually take. One step more toward leaving the laptop at work and bringing nothing but iPad with me at home and on the road! 

The longer I've worked with the iPad, the more I really appreciate it. Now, it is not as robust as the laptop but it is so much cleaner and straightforward. When I'm working on it, the distractions are at a minumum. Word for iPad is really an amazingly well-designed program and truth to tell, I like it better than the Word program on the Mac. It's so much cleaner. And the more I work with it, the more it seems to shine. 

27 October 2015

Interesting night and day

Aunt Sandy arrived last night after a sort of last minute trip across country. She'd had surgery this past Friday, but was discharged with zero limitations. Unfortuantely, her latest stitching came undone on the trip. She and Russ got here about 8. We got to the hospital about 9. By the wee hours of the morning, the surgeon was insisting that it did not need to be repaired, but opened and let the infection that had set in drain. So that's where things stand. Sandy has had some antibiotics and is doing well. She is able to eat whatever she wants and hopefully will be discharged tomorrow. THEN we can have that nice visit we planned and I can mercilessly kick her posterior in liverpool (that's the plan, anyway). Russ headed to Michigan to attend to some much needed stuff up there. 

Cin and I got home about 5 a.m. and snatched a few hours sleep before the day began in earnest. She's with Sandy now and will head home here before too much longer. For right now, I think we're both running on fumes, but very happy to have Sandy here with us for a few days. 

25 October 2015

What a glorious Reformation service...

...at St. Paul's. Pastor Ball is no trimmer. So we did ALL of Divine Service V, plus we sang our hearts out on a pile of hymns. Carlo kicked us off with a Bach setting of Ein Feste Burg. The processional hymn was the same in English, with John Thoelke on trumpet with the organ. Our new field worker assisted as book bearer today. After confession, then the Choir and the congregation chanted the Introit responsively, then the Kyrie God Father and All Glory be to God Alone. Following the first reading, the choir sang the Gradual and then "Built on the Rock." Following the Epistle the congregation belted out "Salvation Unto Us Has Come" wechsel-singen, that is, back and forth! Then the procession and the Gospel reading, followed by "We All Believe in One True God, Maker." The choir offered a setting of the opening words of the Te Deum auf Deutsch. Then a powerful and comforting sermon, the prayers, the offering, and the Eucharistic liturgy. Following the Consecration, as the congregation sang "Isaiah, Mighty Seer" pastor censed the altar. The peace and then "Lamb of God, Pure and Holy." During Distribution we managed to sing all of "O Lord, We Praise Thee," "Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Savior," and "In Peace and Joy I Now Depart." The post-communion, benedicamus and benediction and finally the procession out with "Lord, Keep Us Steadfast." And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, Carlo gave us the Widor Toccata and Fugue in d minor. Sigh.

24 October 2015

And whether...

...one member suffer, all the members suffer with it. 1 Cor. xii.26

This is a most worthy cause, people loved by God. Please prayerfully consider:

October 24, 2015

To the Lutheran Churches in the United States,

Greetings to you from Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada in Christ Jesus, our Lord!

It is with a heavy heart that I write to you. Our congregation, Bethel, is the oldest Lutheran church in Thunder Bay, spanning the ages of some 117 years. She is the mother Lutheran church in town. Our congregation has weathered many a storm in her day (for the sake of the Gospel). That we are still here, sounding the peace of Christ each week (and sometimes twice a week) is due solely to the grace of God. 

Yet, we are now at a crossroads. At our latest council meeting this October, it was reported that we have enough funds for only two more months of ministry. That means that following the New Year of 2016 (should we receive no outside assistance) our doors will be closed for good. No more will the Gospel be heralded from this pulpit, no more will repentant sinners kneel before the altar in this place to hear that guilt cancelling word of absolution and to receive the life giving Body and Blood of Christ. It leaves us all filled with deep sorrow. 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the mission field is not just across seas. The mission field is in the States, in your hometowns. The mission field is here in Canada. The Gospel light of Christ shines forth from Bethel into this city, into this sin-darkened field. Good things continue to happen here. Our gracious and merciful Lord continues to call and gather into His flock. Often, He does so one or two at a time, but that is one or two more people we didn’t have before – one or two more people who have heard the Gospel, believed it, and are saved. 

We are not a large congregation, but we are a faithful congregation. We gather regularly and often in the presence of our Lord in order to receive from His Hand what alone saves. Our cry goes out to our Good Shepherd, in our time of want. Our cry goes out to you, to intercede with your prayers and generosity. With deep humility and urgency, we ask that you please consider supporting our church with a one-time or monthly gift. Donations can be made via check to the address below, or by credit card at www.bethellutheran.ca/support/. Any amount is an encouragement and a blessing. Thank you for whatever assistance you might be able to provide to help this struggling little flock continue to receive the Word and the Sacraments in this place for a while longer! 

O Lord, let this Your little flock, Your name alone confessing, 
Continue in Your loving care, True unity possessing. 
Your sacraments, O Lord, and Your saving Word to us, Lord, pure retain, 
Grant that they may remain our only strength and comfort. (LSB 647 st.2)

In Christ, 

Sam Niemi
Chairman of Bethel Lutheran, on behalf of the Council and congregation

Bethel Lutheran Church
Lutheran Church-Canada
264 Wilson Street • Thunder Bay, Ontario • P7B 1M9
Phone: 807.344.8322 • E-mail: connect@bethellutheran.ca
Web: http://www.bethellutheran.ca/
Pastor: Reverend Jamie Bosma

Nice and quiet day

Cin and I slept in a bit. Then after a bite of breakfast and finishing off a pot of coffee, a haircut! Still can't believe she doesn't get excited about haircut day. The sky was looking a tad threatening, so we elected to stay close to home and just circle the neighborhood twice. We got a few sprinkles, but the real rain tracked to the north. Before we were done, though, a rather chilly wind had sprung up on the backside of the storm. Home for that second pot of coffee, a bit of lunch, and then a project in the garage. Cindi wanted to eliminate a standing caddy that had numerous utensils in it and hang them all in a rack on the wall. Rack hung, utensils hung. Brought the wood holder in and set it up beside the fireplace and filled it and replenished wood in garage. Cin made a fabulous spicy beef stir-fry from Mafetone's site. Then she headed out to bowl and I've enjoyed a very quiet evening at home with only music and Lucy to keep me company. Played music from a CD that many years ago Lee Maxwell had given to me, and remembered that dear friend. Nearly a year now since he reposed in Christ. Tomorrow we will anticipate the Reformation festival. Choir will sing Drummond Wolff's Built on the Rock and also a section from Luther's Te Deum auf Deutsch: Herr Gott, Wir Loben Dich.

13 October 2015

What was that sigh of relief?

Might it have been. Book sent in to CPH. I'm sure there's tinkering yet to come, but it will be at THEIR direction. Meanwhile, I'm not going to think about that project one little bit. 

10 October 2015

Patristic Quote of the Day

The Father willed not to leave us this inheritance, but was wroth against us, and was displeased with us as being estranged from Him; He (Christ) accordingly became Mediator between us and Him, and prevailed with Him... We had offended; we ought to have died; He died for us and made us worthy of the Testament.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 16 on Hebrews, paragraph 2.

09 October 2015

And a bit more...

The whole sacrifice of Calvary is focused to a point at the Altar. It is brought home and made a reality as I kneel to receive the true Body and Blood given and shed for me. Then it was offered on the Cross, now, in heaven triumphant—through bread and wine. Here I truly touch Calvary, which is now being pleaded by my High Priest. Here I find the secret whereby I can touch my God, the secret whereby divine love can also be born in me and thus radiate through me into the lives of my fellow-men.—The Presence, p. 91.

08 October 2015

A Little Von Schenk

The sins of men were expiated on Calvary. But Calvary which united men with God also draws them up to divine love, so that it now becomes their love. This love, the divine love, the Calvary love, is the only love that is worthwhile.

From all this we draw a mighty conclusion. Why is it that we often fail our fellowmen? Why is it that we fail in our church work? Why is it that we fail in our witnessing, in our mission work? It is because we lack the one thing which will save the world—divine love, the Calvary love. It does not radiate through us.

It is not our human love that the world needs. This is what the world has been trying to tell us church people for a long time. But we will not agree. We place the blame for our failure everywhere but the right place, and then we keep trying to foist our human love, tainted with self-interest, on the world, to which it says: "We don't want it; we don't trust it. We can be just as good, if not better, outside the church."

Why is it the early Christians showed such power? It was because Calvary love, the divine love, radiated in their message and in their lives. That love was irresistible. The fascinating story of the martyrs fertilized the acres of the Church. That love alone will build the kingdom of God on earth. That love is the only missionary policy for us to follow. The pure love of Calvary will draw men up. It is the only love that achieves a final victory. It is the only love which has an Easter. Any other love just leaves ashes.

The Presence, p. 72.

07 October 2015

Catechetical Homily on AC XXV

Text: 2 Samuel 12:7ff.

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

People loved by God, “there is no person so lonely as the person left alone with their own sin.” (Bonhoeffer) God, in His great mercy toward us gives us those who confront us in our sin. Who pull back the fig leaves we’ve sown together to cover our sin and do this not to hurt us, but to save us. Nathan was such to David. You know the story. And how David condemned himself: “The man who has done this deserves to die.” “You are the man.” And when confronted, David didn’t offer any excuses. He didn’t attempt to spin the facts. He just stated what is: “I have sinned against the Lord.”

The Lord hadn’t sent Nathan, though, just to confront the sinner and bring him to an honest confession. He had sent Nathan to speak an absolution of sorts. “The Lord also has put away your sin. You shall not die…” I always heard it that way. But then I saw how wrong I was. What Nathan said was “The Lord also has transferred your sin. YOU shall not die…” Instead, the little Son of David would die for the sin of David. Absolution was given full and free to David, but Absolution is never a “it’s okay, don’t worry about it.” It’s always bloody. Our sin demands death: “the wages of sin is death.” So absolution is always anchored in someone’s death. In this case, the little Son of David who is thus a picture of Great David’s Greater Son. Your Lord Jesus. His absolution is never just words. They are words that are true and work because onto He has transferred to Himself all your sin that He might die the death for them, shed His blood for them. The absolution is anchored in the cross.

Lutherans were rather insistent that we recognized that this was a gift not to be trifled with. It was a precious thing and the only way for an anxious conscience to come to peace: the word of forgiveness, spoken by the command of Him whose bloody death backed it up, and whose resurrected lips showed that His sacrifice availed. But we were also adamant that it turned confession on its head to make it a torture and to imply that it only worked if you remembered and named every sin. Nonsense. You can’t. But there are sins that trouble you. Maybe especially the sins you know that have hurt those God put in your life to love and care for. And for those sins, and for that anxious conscience, God’s gift is the absolution. The Apology said it would be a wicked thing to remove the private absolution from the church. We’ve been rather wicked and so we have anxious consciences aplenty. Rather than leave sinners in their sin, we have a gift that we can give. A gift from God, blood secured and as certain on earth as in heaven. It’s for you. And it can set a heart at peace in a way that nothing else can.

The Lord also has transferred your sin. Onto Himself. You shall not die. For He has died for you and in your place.

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

05 October 2015

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is true that the church on earth is imperfect and that in its best life, and because of it, it ever grows. But it must have a complete life to have a constant growth. An acorn is not an oak, but the vital force in the acorn is that which makes the oak and abides in it. The question here is, Has the church reached such a clear, binding faith on the great vital questions, not only of individual salvation but of her own highest efficiency and well-being, as justifies it in making them a term of communion and of public teaching? The question is not whether it can reach more truth, or apply more widely the truth it has, but whether what it now holds is truth and whether by seeking more truth by the same methods it can be assured of finding it.—C. P. Krauth, “The Right Relation to Denominations in America,” in Lutheran Confessional Theology in America, 1840-1880, edited by Theodore G. Tappert (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972), p. 130.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Thus, it is necessary for a man that he should be not only justified when unrighteous by the grace of God—that is, be changed from unholiness to righteousness—when he is requited with good for his evil; but that, even after he has become justified by faith, grace should accompany him on his way, and he should lean upon it, lest he fall.—St. Augustine, On Grace and Free Will, Chapter 13.

04 October 2015

Birthday This N That

Fifty-five years. Whew. Where did they all go to?

A great time last night with the family (minus our Herberts), celebrating both yours truly and Meaghan's birthday. Meaghan's is the day after mine. All told we were Andy and Bekah, David and Meaghan, Lydia and Opa and Cindi. 

Cindi made scruptious sloppy joes and cole slaw (in our family you put the cole slaw on top the sloppy joe - bun not needed!). We had homemade ice cream (with sugar for everyone else, with honey for Cindi and me). Cindi made Meaghan a chocolate marvel pie; and I got some gingerbread (yes, it was paleo) on which we piled some of that ice cream and topped it all off with fried apples. YUM.

Today we're heading over to the Van Ulfts for our monthly pinochle game. Let's sincerely hope that I do better at that than at the liverpool we've been playing lately! 

03 October 2015

Diet Update

We've been eating a basic paleo diet for a long time now, but we've expanded a lot on the foods we eat. Some think that there's only one way to eat paleo, but like so many folks on this journey, we've experimented quite a bit over the years and mindfully added in this or that food, to see how our bodies responded.

So we added in sweet taters a while ago, and then taters (superb for their resistant starch), and most lately: oatmeal! It was wonderful to welcome that wholesome food back. We usually sweeten with a wee bit of honey and a handful of blueberries. I'd forgotten how absolutely great a porridge is for breakfast. 

We basically eat a variety of whole foods and try to avoid like the plague highly processed stuff in packages. We shop the outside rim of the supermarket, grow what we can for ourselves, and for our beef, we buy half a cow that lived on the farm less than a mile away from our house. I still try to avoid too much dairy (particularly too much cheese - it just doesn't love me, no matter how much I love it! Instant stomach pains), and we eat veggies whenever we get the chance (they often play a major role in our breakfasts!). 

My weight hangs in the 140's and I feel better at 55 than I ever did at 40. And an essential part of our way of eating is our way of living: a walk of at least 30 minutes every day. Sometimes I run rather than walk, but the walk is key for me for sanity. I have missed maybe a handful of times, but I feel the loss of it right away. Cindi and I are getting ready to head out now for a chilly stroll in just a few minutes. It's just 53, gray skies and a decent wind. Brr.

01 October 2015

Homily at Matins, Thursday of Pentecost 18 (Mark 9:38–50)

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

Just when you think you might have some clue about what our Lord is talking about, He throws in a real zinger:

"For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if it has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."

What has fire to do with salt? Why will everyone be salted with fire? What does it mean to have salt in yourselves? And what does it have to do with peace with each other?

Remember these words from the Torah:

"With all your offerings you shall offer salt." Salt went with the incense that was burned on the fire as a sweet smelling aroma, pleasing to the Lord. Salt went with the grain offerings that Israel offered to thank God for His mercies. Salt went with every sacrifice that was laid on the Lord's altar.

Ah, does it begin to make sense, then? Everyone will be salted with fire. Everyone is to be an offering. Every life given back to the Lord. So in Luther's baptismal liturgy of 1523, the priest was instructed: He shall now take the child, put salt into his mouth, and say: N., receive the salt of wisdom. May it aid thee to eternal life. Amen. Peace be with thee. 

"Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another."

Salt goes with every sacrifice. And in Baptism, you have been given back to the Father as a sacrifice. But for that sacrifice to be pleasing, it needs the salt. What is that salt? Is it not the Lord Jesus Himself? Is HE not the salt that makes of your life an acceptable offering to the Lord? 

St. Ignatius thought so. When writing to the Magnesians he said: "Let us not therefore be insensible to His kindness, for if He were to reward us according to OUR works, we would be done for.... Lay aside therefore the old sour leaven and be changed into the new leaven which is Christ. Be salted in Him, lest any of you should be corrupted, since by your odor you will be recognized." 

As blind Isaac smelled the fragrance of His older son and so bestowed the blessing upon Jacob, clothed in his older brother's garments, so Your mother the Church has wrapped you up in the garments of Jesus in your baptism and presented you as an offering to the Father, salted with Christ, and He smells His Son's odor upon you, no scent of corruption, and blesses you with every blessing that is Christ's. 

As His baptized, Jesus summons you to see your whole life a sacrifice of thanksgiving to His Father, and that the sacrifice may be acceptable, He reaches you the salt, Himself! And it is only when your life is such a sacrifice, a gift received and then offered back to the Father, salted thoroughly with the Son of God and His own pure life of love, that we can then have the last bit of that reading: "be at peace with one another." 

Peace with one another comes not as something you chase after, but only as a by-product of lives offered to the Father in the Son and by the Spirit. Let me say that even more bluntly: Koinonia must first be koinonia with HIM and only then can there be koinonia and peace between brothers. Only as your life is offered in sacrifice to the Father and salted with Christ can you have peace with each other.

We used to confess our lives as offering all the time in the general prayer. I miss those prayers. A lot. Do you remember these words? Receive, O God, our bodies and souls, and all our talents, together with the offerings we bring before thee, for by His blood Thy Son hath purchased us to be thine own, that we might live under Him in His kingdom. Or this one: Accept, we beseech thee, O God, our bodies and souls, our hearts and minds, our talents and powers, together with the offerings we bring before thee as our humble service. 

We used to pray one or the other of those every single week, and so our liturgy reminded us constantly that our very lives were not our own. Rather, in Christ we have been offered, consecrated, made holy to the Father, acceptable by the blood. Salted with the fire of Calvary and so well-pleasing to our heavenly Father.

When your life is His, not yours, then peace is simply the gift in which you live. Peace with Him through Christ. By Thee are given the gifts of heaven! Peace with one another through the Spirit. The salt of Christ holding at bay the corruption of sin and making you fragrant with His love. 

You know, maybe its time to dust off those old prayers and put them to use again. 

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