30 July 2017


Not once. Not twice. But THREE times this week had the joy of singing Divine Service V, with the great chorale versions of the Ordinary. We used the new Weber and Kohrs arrangements at the Institute, and when I opened the bulletin at St. Paul's today, Divine Service V it was yet again. Millie always comments when we get to sing Isaiah, Mighty Seer. She grew up with that at Olivet for every communion. Told her that if she had joined us for the Institute she could have sung it two more times this past week. 

29 July 2017

Just what the Dr. ordered...

Coffee and a quiet praying of Treasury together...leisurely catching up on email and writing out a thank you note...picked up mail...trip to town to buy some groceries...a bit of french press...a green smoothie (oh, how I missed my greens this week!)...pool time during which I fell asleep, not realizing I had, and then proceeded after who knows how long to have a conversation with my wife, who had long since left the pool...lawns cut...dinner smelling delicious (Greek chicken with Greek salad)...and then some LIVERPOOL...I really do think it is my turn to win. 

28 July 2017

Home again, home again

Jiggity-jig. It was a wonderful week at the Institute for Liturgy, Preaching, and Church Music up at Concordia Chicago, and the Lord blessed us with amazingly cool weather for the last full week of July. You can check out some of the services and the hymn festival here. But this old body is totally and completely wiped. No alarm tomorrow, that's for sure. In the thank yous, I gave a special call out to Sandy Bowers and Jonathan Kohrs. Putting together the Institute is like assembling a massive jigsaw puzzle, and I cannot do jigsaw puzzles. It requires a patience yours truly possesses not at all. But  those two worked until the wee hours many a night just so that when the Institute arrived, nothing would detract from the beautiful face of our Lord Jesus that shone through liturgy, sermon, music, and teaching for those who attended. Thanks to everyone who made it such a grace-filled event!

23 July 2017


Swept through last night. Power out, trees down, no estimation of how long it will be out. This tipped me over the edge. Pulled out the generator that has sat unused since purchased years ago and figured out how to make it go...so that life's necessities could be met. Coffee!!! (Well, and freezer and fridge, but mostly coffee!!!)

21 July 2017

A new resource!

The Word in Song: Hymn of the Day Studies is beginning to roll out. This free resource is offered by LCMS Worship as PDFs that can be downloaded and used to study the Hymn of the Day (Hauptlied) for each Sunday. Advent for the Three and One Year Series is now up here. More to follow later! Spread the word.

17 July 2017

Today’s Matins

Chapel for 7.17.17

Matins, p. 219
Omit Invitatory and Venite
Pray Psalm 3
Hymn: 540 Christ the Word of God Incarnate
John 8:48–59

"The Jews answered him, "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?" Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." The Jews said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, 'If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.' Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?" Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, 'He is our God.' But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad." So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. "

O Lord, have mercy on us…

Responsory, p. 221


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

You will recall John 8 began with folks dropping their stones and slinking away in shame: "Let him who who is without sin among you throw the first stone at her." John 8 ends with folks picking up stones to throw at the only One who IS without sin. And why? Because He told them the truth and the truth thoroughly ticked them off. 

What is the truth? He had just challenged them: Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.

THIS is what provokes their outrage: "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?" He denies having a demon. He doesn't deny being a Samaritan, which means, a Keeper. He IS a keeper of the Word, of Torah, the only one in fact. He keeps the Word of His Father, honors His Father, and does this even in the face of people dishonoring him. He doesn't need to watch out for His own glory. His Father will see to that. He is the judge. His job is to keep the Father's Word.

But just in case they weren't hot enough, he throws some gas onto the fire. "Amen, amen I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." 

And the explosion happens: "Now we know you are possessed, man! Abraham died. The prophets died, and yet you say, 'If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death' (I suppose in their anger they couldn't get the quote exactly right). WHO DO YOU MAKE YOURSELF OUT TO BE?"

But that's the point. He's not making Himself out to be anyone. He's not into glorifying himself. What kind of glory would that be? The one they think of as their God, he is the one who glorifies Jesus. "I know Him; and if I said that I did not know Him, why, then I'd be a liar, just like you all. But I do know Him and I keep His Word. Samaritan. Keeper. Your Father Abraham rejoiced to see my day. He saw it and was glad."

They go apoplectic. "Abraham saw YOUR day? Excuse me, buddy, but you are not yet 50 years old and you have seen Abraham (who lived about 2,000 years before!)." Notice again, they don't get the quote quite right.

And he pushes it further than ever and pushes them right over the edge: "Amen, Amen I say to you, before Abraham was, I am. Ego eimi. Yahweh." After dropping that little bomb you can well imagine the silence before they scrounge around to grab the stones. And yet suddenly he's gone. Hidden, cloaked, invisible. He was there and then he wasn't. He left.

Oh, He had come to be condemned and to die, but the hour still had no come. It would. And He would die for blasphemy, for being a man who made himself equal to God. They didn't miss what He was claiming. Not at all. He was saying that HE was the one who spoke to Abraham, He promised His own birth, He named His ancestor Isaac, He supplied the ram, He is both the One who made the promise and the One who fulfilled the promise to bring blessing to all the families of the earth. Abraham rejoiced to see His day! The day of substitutionary sacrifice by a son from his own body. The day of the Cross. 

Your Jesus is either possessed of demons and a crazy man, or He is God in the flesh. There really is no other option; He gives you no other. And if He is God in the flesh then He is the one whose words CAN and WILL carry you through death. Not that you will not die, but that you will not SEE death. Death is swallowed up entirely in Him. It is Him you will see, not death. 

Join Jesus, the Good Samaritan, the Good Keeper of the Words of God. He carried them to you from the heart of the Father and He gives them to you for you to keep so that they can be your light through the dark valley of the shadow of death, by their light, the darkness disappears and you see the way through, the way that He is. And His great word to you is the same word that He gave at the start of this chapter: "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." Hang tight to it, beloved. He who alone cannot be convicted of sin, He who alone was condemned in place of us all, He whom His Father glorified by lifting up on a tree and lifting up from death, HE will see you through and see you all the way home, where you'll join Abraham in his rejoicing and all the saints and angels who surround the Lamb and sing His praise forever, the faithful One who kept the Father's words and keeps His every promise to us.  

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

Kyrie, p. 227
Our Father

The Lord be with you…

Let us pray. O God, You have prepared for those who love You good things that surpass all understanding. Pour into our hearts such love toward You that we, loving You above all things, may obtain Your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Almighty, everlasting God, the eternal Salvation of those who believe, hear our prayers for Your servants Dan, Alex, Amy, Allen and Jan and all who are sick, for whom we implore the aid of Your mercy, that, being restored to health they may render thanks to You in Your Church through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Merciful Lord, for the benefit of Your people you call faithful men and women to serve in a variety of offices in Your Church. Grant that Your Holy Spirit may lead and guide all those who are on the Mercy Medical Team headed to Madagascar to serve according to Your gracious will. Keep them safe, prosper their journey and bring them home with joy; in Your name we pray. 

O God, our Protector, behold, and look upon the face of Your Anointed who gave Himself for the redemption of all, and grant that from the rising of the sun to its setting Your name may be great among the nations and that in every place sacrifice and pure offering may be made to Your name; through Jesus Christ, 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.

Let us bless the Lord.
The grace of our Lord + Jesus Christ…

13 July 2017

Today’s Homily

Prayer and Preaching, p. 260

Reading: Romans 8

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to [literally, in] us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Catechism: from the Third Article

On the last day he (the Holy Spirit) will raise all the dead and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.

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

To have the firstfruits of the Spirit is to join in creation's groaning, but also to join in creation's way of groaning. There is a way of groaning that is not of creation; but comes from the evil one, the master of discontent and father of lies. There is a groaning that is soaked in gloom and drowns in despair. 

That is not the groaning of creation, nor the groaning of those who have the first fruits. 

Luther correctly noted that the devil is a sad and gloomy spirit. 

St. Peter says that he's always like a roaring lion looking for chow. And how does a gloomy spirit eat? By swallowing up all your joy, devouring all your hope, and filling YOU with his own gloominess, despair, sadness, emptiness. That's how he eats you up from the inside out until finally there's nothing left but bones, and he goes on gnawing on those for a while too.

Philips, in his remarkably insightful paraphrase of the NT, notes the difference with creation's groaning, and so ours: "The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own." 

It's the groaning of little children on Christmas morn: "Can we open the presents yet?" The groaning of the parents, walking back and forth to the door, to see if kids and grandkids have arrived yet. The groaning of the bride as she paces in the back with her father: Is it time to walk down the aisle yet? Or, more at the text, the groaning of the mother in childbirth: real groan, real pain, hurts horribly, and yet she is focused on what waits on the other side. The baby she will hold in her arms.

Creation like a mother, waiting to give birth to resurrection: waiting to see the glory of God's children on the other side of the sorrow and the pain and seemingly interminable slogging. Waiting to see you shining in the glory of adoption; the glory that is already hiding inside you by the Spirit then blazing forth through your very flesh. 

If your groaning has been on the Satanic side which always manifests itself in the invariable gloom to gripe move, St. Paul invites you to get some perspective this morning. 

Listen to how Philips renders Paul: "In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared to the glorious future God has planned for us." Whatever you have to go through now. Whatever. Less than nothing compared to where you are headed, to what God has planned and readied for you. 

The first-fruits of the Spirit sort of groaning thus manifests itself in the groan to praise move (remember this is Romans 8 and you remember how the whole chapter or better the whole first 8 chapters sweeps up into the grand doxology that nothing, absolutely nothing in the whole creation will ever be able to drive a wedge between God's love in Christ and you). Nothing. Nothing.

Perspective is something you can't gain, though, when your eyes are on you, which is where the devil likes you to keep them. Perspective is something you only gain when you look up and look out and look away. This is the path our Lord trod: "Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross." And that joy that was His that sustained Him and got Him through? Knowing that on the other side of this agony was bringing you out of death into life, out of exile home, out of alienation back to the sonship God planned for you from before creation began. Or more with today's text: out of the bondage of corruption and into the glorious freedom of God's children. 

As Philips again nailed it: "And the hope is that in the end the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in that magnificent liberty which can only belong to the children of God!" To accomplish that Jesus goes to His cross and to deliver that living hope into you Jesus sends You His Spirit, the firstfruits; that's how your Jesus takes that finger of His (remember Luke has finger where Matthew has Spirit; the Spirit as the Lord's finger) that drives out the demon with its inwards gaze and lifts your chin up and into His eyes. Eyes brimming with love, and the shame melts, but then He turns you around to see with Him what WILL be and you gasp at the beauty of it. Now? Now? Not yet. But soon.

And your very groaning, awwwwww, is then transformed as your eyes are peeled to the eastern skies and you see the first glimmers and realize that the day is about to dawn and the sun will rise with healing in His wings and you will go out leaping like calves from the stall: there'll be joy in the morning on that day. And I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Look for, expect, ache for. Because it will be Jesus on that day and the triumph of love. And meanwhile you wait and watch and hope and and groan and you realize the whole creation is on tiptoe with you and all who have the first fruits of the spirit. Together we whisper an aching prayer by the Spirit: "Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly!" Amen.

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

913 O Holy Spirit, Enter In


Alex, Amy, Allan and Jan

Short term missionary team, Living Faith Lutheran in Clive IA in Kenya

09 July 2017

Große, große Freude

Today we welcomed our new cantor, Janet Muth, to St. Paul's. It was sheer delight to feast on some Bach pre-service (Kommst du nun) and during the offering (Wenn in höchsten Noten sein), and then a postlude by Dunstable on the Agincourt Hymn (one of my favorites; and we'd sung "O Lord, How Deep" during Distribution). The congregation responded very well to all her leads. Can't wait till choir starts up again! We have been so very blessed in our musicians. I am particularly thankful for all the years with Carlo and for Kate stepping up to the plate during the interim and doing a fine job, and I'm very excited about what the future holds with Janet on the organ bench. 

07 July 2017

Happy birthday, Mom!

SHE'D likely say it like this: "I'm 49 for the 51st time" but however you say it, mom was born 100 years ago today. 

Mildred Hume (Née Mastin) Weedon was born in the front room of an old farmhouse that I remember visiting as a kid (in fact, my first dog came from that farm), at that time owned by Roland and Jean Yeager (and later by my brother's friend, Buck Rogers). 100 years before it was just one of several farms that my family had, all carved out of the original plantation land-grant from George III. 

As a wee thing, she was afflicted with polio. It left her crippled, one leg quite a bit shorter than the other. She needed special shoes to get around in; barefoot she could only hobble a few steps. Because she couldn't keep up with her multitude of sisters and her two brothers, she tended to spend a lot of time alone and reading. Her beloved Aunt Annie (Nannie), told her that with a book she could travel the world and never leave her rocking chair. And right there were two of her favorite things: a rocking chair and a book. 

She frequently reminded me that children could be quite cruel in the things they said; only later did I realize that she must have been teased a bit as a child with that horrible gait of hers. From her I get my own quite intense love of solitude, my love of tea (though I do NOT sweeten it as she used to, three heaping teaspoons per cup - YUCK!), my love of time with family prized above any other social interaction. 

She was a constant tease (a challenge for all the inlaws till they got to know her). Though the very last time I got to see her, she didn't have a clue about who I was (and glared at me as I tried to feed her), only a month or so before she died, my cousin Tommy came from Wyoming to visit her. Her sisters told her: "Mibby, Tommy's come all the way from Wyoming to visit you" and she responded with: "Well, aren't I worth coming a long way to see?" Now THAT was mom! Dementia or Alzheimer's robbed her of so much, above all her treasured memories. She would regale me for hours with stories of her childhood - and memories that the older ones handed on to her: A's memory of balls in the basement of the Great House before the war between the states began, the ballroom with its marble floor. She loved nothing so much as visiting her sisters at the old house where her father had grown up, and two of the sisters lived, swinging on the screened porch and talking as the gloaming faded and the whooperwills began their song.

Happy 100th birthday, dear momma. You are greatly missed:

06 July 2017

Some crazy ideas

That we gave a try and found not to be so crazy after all. I put them here in no particular order and with no links. Google is your friend. 

On finances: Dave Ramsey (for us money knuckleheads) for his Financial Peace University; and then for even more radical an approach, Mr. Money Mustache (he's a fun writer—a bit, well, colorful at times!). 

On diet and health in general, Fatburningman, Abel James and his great book The Wild Diet; Mark Sisson and Primal; Wim Hof and his funky breathing technique and cold exposure (or read Scott Carney's *What Doesn't Kill Us*). As usual, we just ignore any "evolutionary" comments!

On life in general (assuming, of course, the Sacred Scriptures!), check out William B. Irvine's *A Guide to the Good Life.* Great stuff on ancient stoic wisdom. I've been thinking a long time about his insight that the problem with unnatural desires is that they cannot be satisfied. Note that there's a bit of convergence between Mr. Money Mustache / Wild Diet / Stoicism; and that's not even going into the convergences you can recognize between stoicism and Christianity. 

On stuff, Konmari. Seriously. We did this (well, almost finished doing this) and have been amazed at the “sparks joy” concept. My two huge take aways for the kitchen: organize for ease of cleanup and water and grease are the enemies. Yes, water. Dry off that sink! I have been delighted at the peacefulness that arises from everything having a home in our home.

On computing, iPad Pro and iPhone. Done. Yes, I know, the whole “my laptop cannot be replaced by an iPad” debate. I’m here to tell you that it has completely replaced mine. I do everything on my iPad. It holds my hymnal, my Bible and notes, my sermons, page layout and editing, you name it. Via the magic of Horizon app, I have a complete PC that I can use as needed.

On all things weird and wacky, the Tim Ferriss podcast or his latest book *Tools of Titans.* I DID say weird and wacky. You have been warned.

And that's about it for the day. 

A Day Off

With absolutely nothing scheduled (at least for me). So, we got up and prayed our Treasury and enjoyed our fat coffee; Cindi headed out to work and I did a little email, then decided it was time for a workout. Got in the usual 200 pushups and added in 100 lunges and also decided on some sprints, and all wrapped around the morning's walk (already over 10K steps). 

Sprints is really why I'm writing this post. I usually do sprints by running, occasionally by burpees, and even more seldom by jumping rope. Today, I skipped. Skipped like I was a kid again. What a hoot. I was up on the bike trail and found that the skipping (focusing on high jumps with blended knees and soft landings) worked up the sweat faster than any other exercise I have ever tried. And besides: it's fun! I thought: the world would be a better place if we skipped more often. I'm sure I looked ridiculous, but I think only the horse at the farm noticed. 

Got home and did some breathing exercises (thank you, Wim Hof). Remembered that I had to miss a dental appointment a few months back and decided to reschedule. They could take me within the hour. Unbelievable. Jumped into a cold shower, changed and headed up the road. Got home about 11:30 and Cindi and I enjoyed a wee bit of pool time. Still ahead today, some french press, some lesiurely reading, and (I hope!) some liverpool. 

04 July 2017

Words worth rereading

Upon Independence Day here in the United States of America. Frost recited these lines at the inauguration of President Kennedy (who was born 100 years ago this year):

The land was ours before we were the land's.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England's, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

03 July 2017

A Wonderful Weekend

We got to celebrate Dave's 80th birthday (anticipating by a couple weeks) on Saturday. Cindi's sisters, Deb and Dee, flew out on Friday and we THINK we surprised him. Saturday was an open house at our place and we had a good crowd of folks in and out. We were so busy with the party that I didn't even think about Sunday being the Feast of the Visitation (One Year) and so what joy to get to sing all those great hymns and hear Pr. Gleason give us the goods on the Visitation gospel. Ten of us sat down to breakfast after church and then we managed to squeeze in half a game of Liverpool before we had to get Deb and Dee back to the airport. It was so good to spend time with them and to celebrate Dave's 80th. Here are a few pics from the weekend (the pic with Dave and the wee ones shows his nine great grandchildren, including the one that is not yet born!):