29 June 2017

Homily upon the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul

Chapel on June 29 The Festival of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles

Prayer and Preaching, p. 260ff.

Reading: Matthew 16:13–19

1 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Catechism: (A line from the third article explanation): In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. 


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

On what does our Lord build His Church? Our Symbols quote numerous fathers from Origen to Bede to show that the answer is not on Peter's person. They conclude that it must be on the ministry of what Peter said: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 

Does Christ build His church on Peter getting the answer right? On us getting the answer right? People loved by God, that would be a most flimsy foundation, wouldn't it?

You KNOW what follows the text. You know how Jesus told them not to tell who he was and then began to explain what "being Christ" and being the faithful son actually would mean. The trip to Jerusalem. The suffering of many things at the hands of the elders and chief priests. Being killed and then being raised on the third day. And you remember how the fellow who got the answer right, that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, proceeded to take Jesus aside and to rebuke him! "Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you! Enough of this negative talk! Are you forgetting who you are? You have power to prevent any of that from happening!" Jesus, remember, has to rebuke Peter and tell the Satan who was speaking through his mouth to shut up and stop setting roadblocks in the way of His path to the cross. 

Peter may have got the answer right in the technical sense. Yes, Jesus was the Christ. Yes, Jesus was the Son of the living God. But did Peter grasp what that actually meant? No. Not the first clue. And so does Jesus build His church on such flim-flam? 

Might it be that the rockiness that was praised in Simon and so gave him the new name wasn't so much what little he got right, but this: that whatever he got right wasn't his doing, but a revelation and gift from the Father? "For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church." Might this rock be our Lord's certainty that His Father in heaven would disclose the truth about who He was? 

If we shift over to St. John's gospel, recall that our Lord said: "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that the one who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day…No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws (probably too polite a translation, drags is more at it) drags him, and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6)

Now the Father's dragging you to Jesus, that just might be a rock solid enough for Jesus to build a church on. A tad stronger than your right answers with their wrong understandings; and certainly a tad stronger than the person of that first century fisherman who was always rushing headlong into he knew not what. "Flesh and blood" not so much. 

And, of course, that sends us back to the delightful article 3 of our Catechism. "I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith, even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the true faith." The Holy Spirit whom Jesus sends to you from the Father is the Father's dragger. He grabs hold of you and drags you to the Son and begins the enlightenment of who Jesus is and what He has done for you. And THAT is how Jesus does indeed build His church. He builds it on the promise of His Father, the will of His Father, that He lose nothing of what the Father gave Him, that the one who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and this is the Spirit's work alone.

And we can be blockheads like Peter and get the right answers and still be all wrong, and JESUS doesn't toss us away; He rebukes us and points us again and again to His cross. To what He came to do for us. And only by the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sends from the Father does the light that begins to dawn shine to full strength: You have a Savior who would let nothing get in the way of Him taking all your sins to His tree, bearing them there, pouring His blood over them there, and thus severing them from you forever as He owned them all as His. That's what it is to be the obedient Son and that's what it is to be Israel's Anointed One. And He knows that the only way anyone will ever believe or get it is when that belief comes as a rock solid gift: the Father's gift of the Spirit to give the gift of faith in the Son.

On this rock? How about on the Father's dragging you to Jesus by His Spirit and Jesus never letting go of what the Father has given him. That's a pretty sturdy rock indeed. 

In the name…

Hymn: 647 Lord Jesus Christ, the Church's Head

Collect of the Day: Merciful and eternal God, Your holy apostles Peter and Paul received grace and strength to lay down their lives for the sake of Your Son. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that we may confess Your truth and at all times be ready to lay down our lives for Him who laid down His life for us, even Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. 

28 June 2017

I am ashamed to confess

That until this very day I've never listened all the way through Bach's Mass in b Minor, at least I have not meditated my way all through it. Today it consummed my commute both ways and my workout at noon. When I finished each section I just thought: and so the Divine Service in heaven must sound. The plaintive Kyrie at the start is wrung from a heart that is parched and pleading for mercy (with the lightness at the Christe, already recognizing that in Him we have been given the mercy for which we long). The two women's voices virtually dancing together at the start of the second article, two yet one, a beautiful picture of the two natures in one person. But the treatment of the Crucifixus...words fail. We stand before the miracle of the cross and its weight presses down and down upon us. This. For us. And then all heaven breaking loose at the resurrexit. Also, the joy at the remissionem peccatorum, you could almost see the waters springing up ever new and carrying forgiveness to the ends of the earth. It was truly balm for the soul, as it wraps us in something ever so much bigger than we dare to dream.

24 June 2017


Have become just about my favorite day of the week...on quiet weekends, at any rate. We got up this morning a tad before six, made bed, drank coffee as we prayed Treasury, went for a walk, facetimed with grandchildren in NC, exercised some, made breakfast and ate it on the deck (Saturday is about the only day that we DO eat breakfast in the early morning anymore), cleaned up dishes, brushed Lucy (how can one dog shed so much?) and threw her bedding in the wash (she's wandering around like a poor lost soul at the moment), vacuumed (again, how can one dog...), sprayed the Bermuda grass (hopeless task!), and made some iced tea. Cindi's tending to a few more outside chores. Still on the docket: more walks, time in the pool soaking up some rays, trying to burn up my stump in the back yard, and reading a bit more in a novel. The way our calendar has been lately, this is the first weekend in a long time that we've not been booked solid and I plan on enjoying every bit of it. Time to put on some tunes, I think and go look at that stump.

23 June 2017

Happy birthday, Joseph!

Today my brother, Joseph Field Weedon, would have turned 68 years old. He and I had quite similar voices. We played a trick once with Cindi when I worked for him one summer. She called the office and happily chatted on for a bit before she realized that it was Joe she was talking to, not me. He was always a bit of a free spirit and if there was a rule, he felt somehow obligated to break it! Miss him more than words can ever tell.

22 June 2017

31 Years

Like so many things in life, the perspective ripples. It seems both much longer ago than that and yet also it surely cannot have been so long. 1986 on June 22nd found us gathered in the nave of the Lutheran Church of St. Andrew in Wheaton MD as this most unworthy man was placed publicly into the office of the ministry with prayer and the laying on of hands, having been called the previous month to serve as pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Burlington, North Carolina. What stretches betwixt there and here? Dizzying to think of all that has unfolded across those thirty one years. The loss of dear ones (grandpa and grandma DeVries, Nana, Mom, Joanne), the gift of children and their spouses and their children, the gift of wonderful friends in every place we have ever called home, more card games than I can begin to count, tears and laughter, four dogs and I can't even remember how many cats (with but one dog still left!), and my Synod has changed a bit too. Smaller than before and destined to decline further, but I think more united than it was back then and sturdier in a number of ways too. What will the next 31 bring? May the Parousia prevent us from finding out!

20 June 2017

Gottesdienst Video

It is one thing to read about some of the traditional ceremonies associated with the celebration of the Divine Service, but it is quite another thing to observe them in action. Last year at the Spring Gottesdienst conference, a video of the Divine Service was made (with help from a grant from LCMS Worship) and Dr. Burnell Eckardt provided a running commentary. Pastors and seminarians who desire to explore a fuller use of these reverent and historic ceremonies of the Divine Service will find the video to be a help indeed. Check it out: Divine Service. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28, 29.

19 June 2017

Today's Chapel

Morning Prayer, p. 235

Psalm 130

Office Hymn: 553 “O Christ, Our Hope, Our Heart’s Desire”

Reading: John 7:53-8:11

They went each to his own house, 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” 

O Lord, have mercy on us.
In many and various ways, God spoke to His people of old by the prophets.


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

Did ever He speak a more devastating word of law? “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Let’s face it. You love your stones, your gotchas, and the way you feel so utterly “right” when you get to hurl them and they land with a satisfying thunk. 

The problem, of course, is that the Law of God isn’t a list of disjointed items. It is a whole. A seamless will of God that our lives be love from the inside out and everywhere in between. Picture a beautiful and rare vase. And you drop it. It shatters. You can hardly pick up one of the shards and say: Well, see, I didn’t break it here! And when so and so dropped it, that’s exactly where they broke it. What a sinner they are! Um no.

So James 2: “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said ‘Do not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but you do murder, you have become a transgressors of the law.” Or Romans 2 for that matter, “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, everyone of you who judges. For in passing judgment you condemn yourself, because you the judge, practice the very same things.”

So they had her. Caught in the very act of adultery. And since it takes at least two to tango, where’s the fellow? Jesus doesn’t ask, but nor does he let them get away with it. They are trying to trap him, after all, because they’ve pieced together that he’s the mercy man. But they had her, dead to rights. And they had the law. “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. So what do you say?”

He then does the oddest thing. Ignores the question. Stoops and writes. The only indication in Scripture by the way that Jesus ever wrote anything. He’s writing in the dust. But what? Some of the fathers speculated that he looked at folks in the crowd and on the ground wrote down the sin THEY were hoping others never knew about. One after the other. St. Augustine in his ingenious way thought he was digging in the earth to form a new heart a heart of flesh and not of stone for these stony hearted folks who could see the splinter in her eye but not the log in their own. We could speculate till the cows come home but we’ll have to wait to find out! Instead, just note that whatever he wrote didn’t make them back down. “Well? Well? Can we stone her? What do you say?”

He stands among and said to them: “Go ahead. Stone her, only let whichever one of you is without sin toss that first stone.”

He bent down and went on writing whatever he was writing with his finger in the dust. What a fascinating tidbit then: “Beginning with the older ones” the stones begin to drop across the courtyard. Yes, years can make you a bit more conscious of your sin than the hot-head of youth with their fervent idealism. We old ones know how often we have sold out ourselves, at least the guilt isn’t too far away ever. But the word of law didn’t just cause the oldest ones stones to drop. “Let him who is without sin among you” caused all the stones to eventually drop and then silence. Jesus stooping and writing and a woman standing, awaiting her fate. There WAS after all one who COULD throw that first stone. 

But He didn’t. He didn’t come to throw stones. “God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” 

And here we see the tragedy in the story; a horrible tragedy. They were willing to drop their stones and slink away. And so they were just left with a word of law. The sting of being a hypocrite. The shame of being exposed for a self-righteous ass. But remember, He didn’t come into the world to condemn the world. What they ought to have done, what each of us ought to do, is drop our stones and go stand WITH the woman as one who also has dropped the vase and shattered it, who has betrayed love and fractured it in countless ways in our lives. For then, then the final word would not be: “Let him who is without sin…” Then the final word would be: “Woman, Man, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” With her, we could whisper together: “No one, Lord.” Then hear from His sweet lips: “Neither do I condemn you;  go, and from now on sin no more.”

Two final thoughts: first, what right did He have to do this? After all, it wasn’t Moses but Yahweh Himself who had laid down the stern demand of the Law. How could Jesus set it aside? The truth is that He didn’t. He transferred her stoning, her deserved death, to Himself. This he did for her and for us all. His cross is His owning our sin and taking its desserts as His very own.  Second, note that He did not tell her: “if you go and sin no more neither will I condemn you.” Too often THAT is what the world hears us church folks saying, and being rather keen to sniff the hypocrisy of our lives, they believe the whole thing is a sham. But note that Jesus said quite the opposite: He does not condemn her and with that forgiveness, that love, that covering of her shame, He sends her forth a free woman and tells her to live in that freedom. You too. 

People loved by God, drop the damnable stones already, but don’t walk away. Go stand with “them” - whoever the “them” are that you feel oh so righteous to look down your nose at. Go stand with them that the final word in your ear may be: “neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more!” 

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

Benedictus, p. 238ff.

Collect of the Day: O God, the strength of all who trust in You, mercifully accept our prayers; and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing, grant us Your grace to kept Your commandments that we may please You in both will and deed; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

Remember, O Lord, according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Your whole Church, all who join with us in prayer, all our sisters and brothers wherever they maybe in Your vast kingdom who stand in need of Your help and comfort: commending into Your hands today especially Alex, Amy, Allen and Jan, and asking Your blessing upon Pastor Michael Paul and all who labor for you far from their native lands. Pour out on them and on us all the riches of Your mercy, so that we, redeemed in body and soul, and steadfast in faith, may ever praise Your wonderful and holy name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. 

O Lord, our Heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, You have safely brought us to the beginning of this day. Defend us in the same with Your mighty power and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger, but that all our doings, being ordered by Your governance, may be righteous in Your sight; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Taught by our Lord and trusting His promises, we are bold to pray…

Let us bless the Lord.

The almighty and merciful Lord, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit bless and preserve you. 

18 June 2017

Installation of Pastor Karl W. Gregory

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

People loved by God, saints of Messiah here in Lebanon, brother pastors, President Scharr, and especially Pastor Gregory and Nancy, today is a day of great joy! Another prayer answered. "Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into his harvest fields" He had said. The saints here took Him up on that. And the Lord Jesus answered. And this afternoon they delight to receive the gift they asked for, a pastor, a minister of the Word, and we rejoice with them. A fellow laborer in the harvest of the Lord, called to serve out the gifts of God to the people of God: one Karl W. Gregory.

When the great Lutheran theologian Johann Gerhard taught about the duties that belong to the office of the ministry, he came up with a rather tidy list. He wrote: "All told, therefore, there are seven duties of ministers of the church. We can relate all the rest to those seven: first, preaching the Word; second, dispensing the Sacraments; third, praying for the flock entrusted to them; fourth, controlling their own life and behavior; fifth, administering church discipline; sixth, preserving the rituals of the church; seventh, caring for and visiting the sick and distressed." Pastor Gregory, Jesus has put you here to attend to all this.

And as you can tell from the readings today, preaching the Word gets the top billing. Jeremiah warns the people not to put up with any preacher just jawing on about his own ideas and dreams and thoughts. And oddly enough, the preacher's own ideas and thoughts tend to work like this: telling people not to be afraid of despising God's Word and that all is going to be great with them no matter what they do or how they live. What St. Paul would later call scratching itching ears. "No disaster shall come upon you. Be at peace. Do what you will." That's to be a preacher of lies. The mark of the real-deal preacher is this: "if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way." They, not the preachers, the Words of God. Only the Words of God, the real words that come from God, have the power to turn people from their evil ways.

HIS Word alone the hammer that breaks the rock in pieces, the rocky hearts of unrepentant men and women.

But that means it is not YOUR words that have that power. Not your ingenuity that can figure out how to make God a bit more palatable. None of that for you, Pastor Gregory. No putting up with that, saints at Messiah or brothers in office, not that I think you have that to fear from this man, knowing him as I do. But still, it is never to be taken for granted. People of God, remember your catechism. Remember the important question it teaches you to ask: not just "what does this mean" but above all "where is this written?" I can tell you this man will never resent you coming to him with the request that he show you from the Scriptures the truth of what he is asserting. He will thank you for coming to him with that.

The words of God do the job, but the words are joined to the elements and so sacraments. That too is what Pastor Gregory is put here to attend to. The sacraments don't belong to him as a minister; they belong to you as the beloved Bride of Christ, but serving them to you is part of what Jesus puts him here to do. And he must do this faithfully: as one who must give account to Jesus for his handling of such awesome gifts. Here, it doesn't matter on whit whether you like or dislike what he's doing; what matters is how will he answer to the Lord for his administration of these life-giving sacraments. You help him most when you tell him: Pastor, we want you to do exactly what Jesus wants you to do, what He's said in His word. Do that and we will be ever so grateful to our good Lord for sending us a faithful shepherd.

But whether the saints here say that to you or not, it is still your duty to be on your knees interceding for them. That means you must open your heart to take their heartaches and sorrows, their joys and celebrations, into yourself and carry them before the throne of God. Not now and again. Daily. Daily praying for them. Without fail. Make Samuel's words your own: "God forbid that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you."

And then the watching your own life and behavior to set an example. No, that doesn't mean making sure that they never learn to know you as a sinner. In fact, it means quite the opposite. Let them learn to know and love you for the man you are: a sinner whose every sin has been answered for by the blood of Jesus, even as all their own have been. Let them learn to know and love you in your struggles against your own sinful flesh that they might have the courage to struggle against their own and realize that they don't have to live a life of make-believe where they go from victory to victory. In the Church, we stumble along, fall flat our face and get back up again by the grace of God to stumble a few steps further. We do this, as the second reading taught us, surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who also in their own day, stood and fell, crawled forward a bit and fell again, and then struggled on, and finally crossed that finish line. Now they cheer us on from the stands. Let the people here know you as a man of faith: a man who literally lives from the giving of God, His abyss of forgiveness and mercy. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith, and you will help them to keep their eyes trained on him as well.

But that doesn't mean that you're free to ignore the sin either in your own life or in theirs. No, we are not ignorant of the devil's devices. We know that sin is never a neutral. It's like a cancer in the body. It will eat you up. God hates sin because of what sin does to us, the creatures that He loves. It must be fought and above all, we need to receive forgiveness and to turn from it. Forgiveness is never a get out of hell free card that allows a person to go on sinning with impunity. God loves to forgive. I love to sin. Such a deal! May it never be. That's what God was crying out against in Jeremiah. No, "repentance unto the forgiveness of sins" is how Christ quite literally put it in today's third reading. And so church discipline. Not from the posture of "I've got it all together and I want to help you become as put together as I am" but from the posture of a fellow sinner who has learned first hand the dangers of sin's allure and who loves his people enough to speak to them the truth. "Turn from this! It will destroy you. I love you. HE loves you. He doesn't want you destroyed. Repent!" You're put here for that task too and it is the most difficult and thankless.

Well, almost as thankless as the task of preserving church rites. What? Folks might think. What does that mean? You see, you have the task of helping this wonderful family of God realize that the rites and ceremonies of the church don't belong to this congregation or its individuals and certainly not to its pastor. They belong to the wider church and require care in their exercise. St. Paul said to do all things decently and in order (1 Cor. 14) and that presupposes there IS an order. We honor our fathers and mothers in the faith when we receive these rites as gifts from those who have walked this way before. We honor them when we let these rites and ceremonies shape how we receive the good gifts of God and live as His servants in this world. Here's good news: you don't need to create some nifty liturgy that will pack in the crowds and fill the offering plates to overflowing. You get to serve up the liturgy that the Church has handed to you and show your people the joy of the way that thing serves up the Word of God in all its richness and glory.

The last bit from Gerhard reminds you that you as the pastor of this flock have a special responsibility toward the disadvantaged here, those who are poor, who are sick, who are hurting and above all the dying. He puts you in His own spot where He saw the crowds and had compassion on them for they were harassed and troubled like sheep without a shepherd. That's the heart He would put inside you as His undershepherd in this place: a heart that yearns for those who are passing through difficult and trying times, and that goes to them, where they are, to accompany them through those times with the words of Him who will not fail them no matter what, with prayers and tears. If you are faithful in this, you'll know the nurses in the hospital by name in a few years time and you will realize that more ministry happens in waiting rooms and by the hospital beds than anywhere else.

That's a pile of responsibilities to lay on any man. Karl, I know that hearing all that, you will not hear it as crushing load because you know that the One who gives it to you gives Himself to you too without reservation. He will walk this road with you and through you will serve His beloved flock here. He delights to pour out His Spirit upon you that all this might be done. Then you with Paul can cry out that your sufficiency is from Him and that it is His strength that is perfected in your weakness. True, you bring great gifts He has given you. A good mind, wide-ranging experience in the military, a veteran already of the struggles in the church herself, one who has known suffering for speaking the truth and being willing to pay the price. Most of all, you bring the gift of song, you and Nancy together, hearts brimming with His joy and eager to sing His praise with the saints here. Lots of gifts. But to the people here, the greatest gift you will ever bring is simply to be that humble sinner among them who never ceases to point them to their Jesus, His cross, His triumph, His love for them, His forgiveness. It's the beating heart of all those seven duties. Take up your shepherd's staff with joy, my friend, you have a great Savior who loves you, and to Him be the glory with His Father and His all-holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages! Amen.

17 June 2017

Reflections on a Wedding

As we spoke of the wedding we'd just attended, I mentioned to Cindi that this is what happens when both the bride and groom and their respective families are staunch Lutherans. Quick rundown:

Beautiful preservice music utilizing the rich traditions of organ literature of the Lutheran Church, including for the procession of the bridal party and the bride.

The singing of Now Thank We All Our God.

Invocation and Introduction.

Readings: Genesis 2:15–25, Ephesians 5:1–2, 22–33, Mark 8:34–38.

The singing of The Church's One Foundation (three stanzas) to the tune for Jerusalem the Golden.

Wedding homily by the groom's father; quite excellent.

The singing of Lord, When You Came As Welcome Guest.

The marriage with consent and vows, exchange of rings, and declaration of marriage.

The singing of Abide, O Dearest Jesus.

Prayer for the wedding couple, and for the institution of marriage, and the Our Father, then the benediction.

The singing of Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer, followed by an assortment of joyous music from the organ literature of our Church as the nave emptied out.

From start to finish, a service in which the main thing remained the main thing, not the bride (beautiful as she is, both inside and out, and looking radiant), not the groom (tall and handsome and looking utterly smitten by his beloved), but Jesus and His love for His bride the Church. It was everywhere and shaped everything and held it all together in a joy that was palpable.

Folks, this is how you do weddings. Great and overwhelming joy indeed. May our Savior bless both Jess and Johanna and grant them many, many years together, making their union fruitful and always an image of Him and His Church!

16 June 2017

Happy Day!

Woke up this morning about 3:30. Can't imagine why. Could it be that I'm a little bit excited that Cindi is coming back today? Could be! Just possible. 

We're absolutely weird how poorly we do apart from each other emotionally.  And each time we have an away time, I am absolutely blown away when I think about how singles and especially single parents handle it.

Was really wiped about doing the yards and fixing dinner last night, so didn't get to attend to the last minute stuff I wanted to. This morning, however, with some bullet-proof coffee in me and Treasury prayed, energy was not a problem. Wash thrown in; dusted; vacuumed; swept kitchen; even rearranged the fridge a bit (I'll probably get yelled at for that). Still need to do exercises, but there's plenty of time for that now.

Opened up a door or two for fresh air, but that fresh air is rather humid. Still, that way I can hear the birds sing their Matins, which I always love. Anyway, can't wait to see that smiling face again. May the Lord wing Cindi and Michaela safely and swiftly home!

Addendum: One of the DISADVANTAGES of being ahead of the game... I happily made up the coffee for tomorrow and set it ready to go. All taken care of. I didn't look at the time I did this. So, of course, it just ground some more and I'll have another fresh pot of coffee to finish, clean up and reset. Sigh. 

10 June 2017

Personal Updates

I've had folks inquire since Thy Strong Word mentioned some health stuff with the family. Here's the scoop: eldest daughter, Lauren, had some emergency surgery last Monday to deal with kidney stones AND some more scheduled for this coming Monday. She's home and doing fine at the moment. We flew Cindi out last Tuesday to help with the kids (and thank God for Michaela just "happening" to be visiting!).

Meanwhile, Cindi's dad (who lives next door) had scheduled surgery for his rotator cuff. He is now home and mending.

God willing, Cindi will head home next Friday. Meanwhile, Lucy and I are keeping the home fires burning.

Been a great opportunity to check off things from the to do list: I konmaried some meat in the fridge that didn't smell quite right (what does that mean? It means you put it in a zip lock freezer bag and freeze it until trash day). Have learned that since "water and grease are the enemy" I've started always to wipe down the sink after every use. In the last few, I've cut both lawns, done laundry, vacuumed upstairs and down, dusted up and down, sanitized the kitchen counters, cleaned the tile around the fire place, watered our garden, Cindi's inside plants and Dave's outside plants, vacuumed the pool and put in new chlorine tabs, cleaned the tracks on the sliding door, swept and washed the kitchen floor (Amy's right: nothing beats doing this on your hands and knees), polished wood floors up and down, cooked several meals for Dave and me, done some basic nursing stuff, run some errands, researched and led hymn sing at the Issues' Making the Case Conference, practiced music for tonight and tomorrow for church (also playing next week). Well, at least Cindi will come home to a clean house more or less.

The longer I live the more convinced I become of the truth of God's Word: "It is not good that the man should be alone." Cin does all that and more at the drop of a hat. What is ironic is that I'd just had a nice week's vacation but it was very busy with almost no "alone time." I told Cindi: I just need some time by myself. Ugh. If I could recall words... I take it all back.

07 June 2017

A Hectic Few

We got word on Monday that Lauren was going to be hospitalized for complications with kidney stones. She ended up having surgery on Monday night and so early Tuesday, we were scrambling to book a flight for Cindi to NC. We were able to get her on a midday flight and so she arrived in the evening. Thanks be to God that Michaela had been out for a visit. She has been a massive help to Lauren and Dean in this frantic time. We're hoping that Lauren will be able to come home tomorrow.

Meanwhile, on the home front, Dave had his scheduled surgery today, his second shoulder surgery. He’s also home now and doing well. Huge thank you to Bekah for fixing our traditional “Wednesday breakfast” (for supper), so we literally walked through the door and sat at table and ate. Got Dave back home and he was wiped and heading to bed.

What a joy to be able to work even in the hospital. Pulled out my trusty iPad Pro, linked through my phone, and we were off to the races. Chapel announcements for week of 6/19 were drafted. Fired up the Virtual Machine and saved them to the Synod’s drive. Fixed tomorrow’s chapel announcement that had become obsolete by recording a new and corrected one, dropping into a shared Dropbox and deleting the old one. Voila! Tomorrow's announcements will be correct. Caught up on a bit of email and even listened to a crazy podcast from Tim Ferriss. I also read a bit while I waited for Dave to get done on iOS 11 and let me tell, you from the standpoint of a productivity user on the iPad, that is going to be an amazing update. Can’t wait to play with Files. I wish it were all available as I am working on the bulletins for this summer’s Institute.

05 June 2017

It's hard to believe

That we've been married for 35 years, and pretty much been buddies since 1972 (when Cindi and her friend Debbie introduced me to the wonders of hot cinnamon toothpicks at Belt Junior High School). Yeah, that's like 45 of my 56 years, in other words, almost all of my life! Here we stand in the autumn of our life and look back and stand amazed. The wonderful children God gave us together; the wonderful children those children chose to marry and so gave us as our own children too; the gifts of grandchildren galore (Sawyer, Annabelle, Lydia, Flynn, Henry, Felicity, Oliver? James? Whatever his name will be, due in September); the places we've lived and the friends we've been blessed with along the way. Fun with Jim and Amy and kids in NC. Countless card games: Ruth Holler teaching us Liverpool and the fun evenings with Ruth and Don, Muriel and Ed, and Cindi and I in Mebane NC; playing cards with Dave and Joanne and doing every last thing I can to irritate the daylights out of her (Spades? Why here, have the 2 of clubs AND the ace of clubs); all our pinochle friends across the years with all the variations of that game (and we love each one), especially Scott and Crys, Dave and Sharon, Stu and Jenn, Peggy and Richard, John and Karen, Carlo and Steph, Randy and Rachel, and our newest buds, John and Kate (and I probably left someone off!). The road trips when the kids were small to Niagara Falls, to PEI, to Montana (and all points in between). The wonderful trip to NYC and the magical evening of Oklahoma on Broadway (what a gift - thank you, Jim!). Hours and hours spent imposing on Cindi's sister Deb and her hubby, Doug, (they had a nice pool and lots of cousins to play with!). Discovering Dave Ramsey. Discovering Vegetarianism/Low Carb/Paleo...and always wondering what's next! The trip to Mexico with Deb and Doug; with Dave and Sharon; with all the kids. Cruises with Steph and Carlo, John and Karen. Time spent at Bethany in the Blue Surf. Our wonderful parish families in NC and NJ and here. Holidays around the old table...images of Nana falling asleep after asking for the potatoes, and Sandy and everyone else always evaluating Cindi's cooking on the basis of Nana's and finding it quite a worthy successor. The freezing Thanksgiving in NC when all Bill's family came down; or the time Karl went out and came back with a much needed bundle of firewood, and regaled us with Rindercella; the Christmas with only french fries with our meat because the water pipe was frozen and we couldn't boil potatoes. Of course, it hasn't all been sunshine, but there's no question as we look back over our 35 years of married life that it has been overwhelmingly a time of joy as we walked together down this path. We thank the Lord for each and every day that we have had together and wonder what adventures await us in the future for as many days as the Lord gives us. Happy anniversary, Cindi! I love you!

04 June 2017

Pentecost Sunday!

Pics from the day, which being translated is: rode bike to church, arrived right after sunrise and played two services, and then had a great brunch and afternoon with our friends the David Y family: