29 November 2015

Veni Emmanuel

...recorded earlier today to share with my oldest daughter on FB:

28 November 2015

Welcome, Advent!

With the setting of the sun tonight, Advent begins. The older I get, the more I welcome and love the penitential seasons. The collect (prayer of the day) for this Sunday asks the Lord Jesus to stir up His power and come and rescue us from the threatening perils of our sins. 

And this is why we need Advent (whether or not the Christmas tree is up as ours is): we need to be reminded again of what we don't want to really believe. That our sins ARE threatening. That our sins ARE perilous. That our sinful desires need not indulgence, but execution. That this fallen age can never be our true or lasting home. That we need the salvation that comes only from our Savior's gracious visitation. The light begins to grow amid the gathering darkness and intensifying gloom (here in the northern hemisphere) and throughout this strife-torn world: and our sin will never NOT be the enemy of the light, but the light is our hope. It spills out from the cracked open door of our true and lasting home. "Come, Lord Jesus!"

27 November 2015

My mom's home place...

...the front part of the house was built by mom's grandfather, "Daddy Jim," and my grandfather was born here in 1885. The middle part of the house dates back to colonial days and was the miller's house on the Field plantation (Daddy Jim's mom was Catherine Anne Field). The rear of the house was done when I was a teen, replacing a similar one-and-a-half -story section that had stood there when I was a child. Aunt Emma always had goodies baking in the wood cook stove; her light rolls were amazing and her pies of all sorts simply legendary. We'd always come here to gather running pine and cedar and holly branches to decorate our home in Maryland during Christmas. They flourish in the woods to the right of this picture. After mom's funeral, we went back here for the wake; I think it was 21 years ago tomorrow. And, yes, though there was a bathroom added (you can see if just off the back porch), old habits die hard. I still remember regular use of chamber pots, because who would walk downstairs to use the facilities in the middle of the night?

26 November 2015

Our Thanksgiving Feast

Turkey is in oven, table set, wine prepared, cheese (brie, plain and herbed, and 2 year aged cheddar) and smoked sockeye salmon ready for appetizers, sweet potato soufflĂ© ready to slip in oven, gravy underway. Pumpkin pie and chocolate torte ready for dessert. Still to go: roasted taters, green beans almandine, asparagus, and some dinner rolls (really, a sort of yummy popover with tapioca and coconut flour fix). Thinking it's smelling pretty good. 

22 November 2015

It doesn't get better than this...

...this side of the Parousia. We attended early service at St. Paul's this a.m. I was already looking forward to it, for I love the readings and hymns and chants of this Last Sunday of the Church Year. But what a feast! The prelude had just begun when I came in, but I got to hear most of August Homilius' Wachet Auf. The opening hymn was "Christ Is Surely Coming" and the congregation belted it out with some help from Carlo and John on trumpet. The school children were the cantors today and did a great job on the Introit and Gradual. Right after the Gradual, they sang Kenneth Kosche's lovely Bless God's Holy Name in two parts. The hymn of the day was amazing. After the congregation sang the first stanza of Wake, Awake, the school children belted out the same verse again AUF DEUTSCH. Maybe Im silly, but I'm thinking that those walls were happy to hear the old tongue again and many was the saint gathered in heaven who worshipped there at St. Paul's in the old days who beamed and sang along with! And just when it can't get any better...the homily. Pr. Clausing is preparing to serve in Kenya and he preached us the greatest homily ever. The images will stay with me: the overlap right before dawn when the light has appeared and yet the night hasn't gone, perfect image of the church living in the overlap of ages...how vital to stay awake when you're driving at night and not get comfortable, cozy, sleepy...The importance of us not getting too comfortable in this age, but staying awake and alert and how God does the job of keeping us awake and alert as we hear and heed His Word, above all the Word Jesus speaks to us: "for you, for the forgiveness of sins" for we are not destined to wrath but to inherit salvation with our Lord Jesus. It was just amazingly good and delivered with the manifest joy of a forgiven sinner. And when our souls were filled to the full, God in His usual way, gave us even more. Wachet Auf came back during the offering. Bach's "Sleepers Wake" with John doing the trumpet. It was long and I wished it had never ended. But then again, God had even more. We feasted at the Eucharist and the African hymn "When I Behold Jesus Christ" started us off, and then onto Johann Walther's "The Bridegroom Soon Shall Call Us" in that glorious Praetorius setting that virtually makes you dance for joy, especially when John is playing along with his trumpet and then up to the Norse lands for "Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers." All this while the body and blood of the Savior that took away our sins and promises us resurrection filled our mouths. After the thanksgiving and closing liturgy, we sang "The Day Is Surely Drawing Near" and then even MORE gifts. Bach's Fugue in G Major. I walked out smiling for joy and thinking how blessed Kenya will by the Clausings and how blessed we are at St. Paul's to have musicians and pastors determined to fill us with the very best and greatest gifts of our Lutheran heritage. Heart bursting for joy today! "Her star is risen, her light is come" indeed and therefore "will we eternally sing hymns of praise and joy to Thee."

My NC grandkids...

...all ready for Church on Sunday of the Fulfillment. 

21 November 2015

The first snowflakes of the season...

...a brisk walk in the cold, lots of time for reading and chatting, tasty leftovers, a roaring fire and a happy dog. 

Life is good.

17 November 2015

LCMS Worship

has posted a couple links that may prove beneficial. They are very short table devotions, one for Thanksgiving Day and one for the season of Advent. 

Here you go:

Thanksgiving Day:


16 November 2015

Counting down the days...

...to a real vacation. Before I'm done work this week: four more radio shows for Thy Strong Word (Isaiah 11–14), two Issues Etc. shows (Hymn Study on Now Thank We and Issues 24 on John 4,5), a Bible Study for Life Ministry, devotion for Office of National Mission in our ongoing study of Revelation, a sermon on Wednesday on part II of the Athanasian Creed, and playing for service at IC on Thursday. But then a blessed week off with two weekends. Well, still playing at Trinity for both Sundays and singing in St. Paul's choir for Thanksgiving, but there will be many days with no obligations whatever. Can't wait. Earlier "time off" this year was spent working on the book Celebrating the Saints. 

What a Treasure arrived in the mail today!

Matthew Carver (he of the Walther Hymnal and the Herberger goodies) shared with me his latest: Saints Maurice and Catherine DAILY LECTIONARY. That is, the complete set of office readings indicated in the Cantica sacra of the (Lutheran) Magdeburg Cathedral, 1613. The Cantica sacra is a work of some wonder, providing complete instructions for ALL the daily services (Offices and Mass) at the cathedral (Mass was every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, but also any saint day or festival; the daily office was, well, DAILY). But the readings are only indicated in the work. Here, Matt has put them all together in a single volume, using the majestic language of the Authorized Version. Sunday nocturnes for Matins (Vigils), and then readings for each Lauds (Matins) and Vespers on week days, and propers for the saints days. If you put this volume together with the Brotherhood Prayer Book you have a complete and thoroughly Lutheran breviary. Matt points out how the readings largely fit with pre-Reformation schemes, but are expanded. The Apocrypha is not neglected. There are weekday readings in the later Trinity season for Judith, Tobit, and 1 & 2 Maccabees. It's a volume I recommend highly to anyone who wants to "let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly" and particularly to any who regularly use the Brotherhood Prayer Book.


10 November 2015

Dona Gratis Donata

Essays in Hono(u)r of Norman Nagel on the Occasion of His Nintieth Birthday. I'm privileged to have authored one of those. You can order it here.

07 November 2015

Sausage Supper

Years ago... the basement was filled with folks peeling and slicing apples to make homemade applesauce. David and Lauren and Bekah would use their little red wagon to haul them from the basement over to the kitchen in the school. Duane reminded me this morning of little David down there helping out. Not so little anymore.

Nowadays... still make our signature cranberry sauce (Louis and Duane's specialty), and Verna still fries the bacon to stir into the green beans. The sauerkraut is still made the same way, I think. But the set up is far, far simpler. It's a buffet line rather than a family style meal. Still, the vast array of homemade pies will wow and awe. Cindi's contribution:

This will be the first year in the refurbished gym. Looks so amazingly bigger with the lighter and brighter colors. And just as my little ones helped out once upon a time, so the youngsters were out in full force today. Shawn called them the future St. Paul Lutheran Sausage Supper Committee:

02 November 2015

Some sounds and sights from All Saints at the International Center

Homily for All Saints (Rev. 7; Matthew 5)

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

All saints can be a bit awkward when we hear the name of someone we knew and loved mentioned and we think: saint? Well. Not really. I knew them. I lived with them. I’ll not forget my wife’s uncle’s funeral. The man up front jawed on quite a long time and gave such a glowing and amazing picture of Uncle Bill, that finally Aunt Jane leaned forward and whispered kind of loudly to my mother-in-law: Jo, I sure would have liked to have known THAT man! You see, all the family knew that Bill was rather cantankerous and to put it politely quite a handful. And so when my name is added to the list of those remembered on all saints, people who know me would definitely snort: if you think that man was a saint you obviously didn’t know him very well, especially when he was playing cards! And I suspect they’d think the same about everyone of you.

Ah, but today we remember these departed loved ones not as what Luther called “card board saints” but as real saints: that is, very real sinners who failed to love God with everything they had and who failed time and again to love their neighbors as themselves; as folks whose very real sins hurt and at times broke the hearts of those around them, and maybe whose hearts you broke a time or two. And YET. They have all been washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. Of the great multitude that surrounds the throne of God and the Lamb, not one is there because they lived their lives perfectly, or even reasonably well. Every last one is there because they washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. Baptized into Him, who one is THE Saint in the sense of the perfect one, they have been forgiven and credited with a righteousness, a perfection, a holiness that is pure gift. That’s why they cry “salvation belongs to our God and to the Lamb.” 

So as we remember loved ones today, we don’t have to pretend they were perfect. We don’t have to let death sanitize their memories. The blood of the Lamb has already done that. He’s forgiven them all their sins, even the sins that lurked in their good deeds. Just as He does for you and me. They after all knew that they were poor in spirit, they had nothing to give and everything to receive. And in Jesus, they did receive all. You will too. Amen.

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

01 November 2015

Some sounds

From St Paul's this All Saints day.  As each name of those from our parish who had died since last All Saints was read aloud, solemnly and slowly the great bell was tolled a single stroke. E'en So followed the thanksgiving for the departed. "Rejoice in heaven, all ye that dwell therein!"