12 July 2018

From Johann Walter’s great hymn

There God shall from all evil
Forever make us free,
From sin and from the devil,
From all adversity,
From sickness, pain, and sadness,
From troubles, cares and fears,
And grant us heavenly gladness
And wipe away our tears.

In that fair home shall never
Be silent music's voice.
With heart and lips forever
We shall in God rejoice,
While angel hosts are raising
With saints from great to least
A mighty hymn for praising
The Giver of the feast. 
LSB 514:3,4

05 July 2018

More Maupin Memories


In no special order... Stopping at Cattlet's Texaco on our way back to Maryland to get our Grape Nehis (or Cokes), into which Maupin inserted salted peanuts... The year the snow was so deep Penny couldn't get out, and Maup made a snow tunnel for her in the backyard... Chewing wads of Clark's cinnamon gum together... Winston cigarettes... The little Sunoco transistor radio he gave me... Him trying to be “Jim” when he worked at Esso... The jacket he brought me from Danang... His incredible eye for photos... Nancy picking a random hair off his pants to which he went OUCH (it was attached and had made its way through)... Munching our Wise Barbeque potato chips together... The secret of sprinkling garlic salt on bacon... The horrible night that Butch got shot and so glad Maup was with him... Him stepping between Daddy and Uncle Edgar in some tense moments after Granddaddy Chance passed... Me inviting Nancy to see our patio, to which she replied to Maup "I didn't know you had a patio" and Maup made a sign to show that I was a little cracked in the head (hey, imaginary patios can be very real)... Him chaffing at the powder blue tux he got to wear at my wedding... So many more.



04 July 2018

+ James Maupin Weedon (31 December 1951 to 3 July 2018)


Yesterday my brother died. Words fail me as I try to describe this man. The quintessential free spirit. He introduced me to all manner of naughtiness. He taught me to love Johnny Cash and the Eagles. He had a heart of gold, the kind of person that quite literally would give you the shirt off his back without even thinking about it. The kind of person who would play with a brother nine years younger and never even hint at the fact that he wasn't having the time of his life! I remember the time he thought to fill my pool up with Mr. Clean and we took a bubble bath outside; or him hammering into my head: "Never forget, Billy, anything you can do, I can do better. Repeat it." And I would and I believed it! His "Afternoon!" And "Howdeedo!" Were legendary with my kids. They all loved Uncle Maupin. In fact, all the kids did. He was like Uncle Jimmy Mastin in the next generation. I remember him deciding he'd had enough with stuffing ads into the papers he was delivering, so he decided to burn them. Right across from Glenmont Elementary one morning. And how he showed me that he was like a god by passing his hand through the flame. Yup, he was a god. I was in awe. And when he left for Vietnam, I remember being so sad. But the sadness faded into joy when he finally came home. He and Nancy and little Jimmy. And then Jeremy (leave the eletric cord alone, little one!) and finally Jessica. Maup and Crackers riding in his truck—he always seemed to have a vehicle on the edge of breaking down, but he kept them going. Maup and I working at Joe's warehouse. Two summers I got to work with both of these brothers, and only rarely did I get sent out with Maup to deliver paper, but that was always the best of days when I did. Because I could talk to him like I could talk to no one else. He never judged. He'd just laugh and give some off-color advice and I'd be laughing right along with him. I am so blessed that 10 days before he died I got to preside at his daughter's wedding and see him give away his daughter in marriage and dance with her. I'm going to miss him big time. We walked together over to the cemetery and visited our mom and dad's graves and also our brother Joe's. He showed me the memory garden, "so you can just sit and think...and remember." I'll use it to remember you, Maupin. To paraphrase my favorite children's book: "I'll love you forever; I'll like you for always; as long as I'm living my brother you'll be."

When I was born, I almost died with an intestinal blockage. Our neighbor across the way took Maupin to her church to light a candle and pray for me. Today I lit a candle and prayed for him: Rest eternal, grant your servant Maupin, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him!


26 June 2018

A fun evening

Been a very long time since just the six of us went out to eat. Last time was years ago in Annapolis (and we got to take a water taxi). This time nothing quite so exotic. Greek food. Kala!


25 June 2018

Time with Family




Wedding Homily


A Reading from Ecclesiastes, chapter 4

9Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

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

Okay, you two. Confession time. For me, not you. I always got in trouble for telling my congregation that I much preferred preaching funerals to weddings. They'd get so agitated: “Pastor, that's just wrong!”

But think about this for a minute from a pastor's perspective, will you? At a funeral the problem is obvious. There's a box with a body in it, but the person who used to inhabit that body has gone awol and everyone feels it. It hurts. Hurts like hell. And people are ready and aching to hear a word that can address the pain. And I had that word.

Now, take the wedding. The problem itself is hidden beneath all the joy and celebration of the day. And the folks out there, and sometimes the folks right here, are all thinking: Come on, preacher man, make it short and sweet. We want to get to the main event of the day: the party! Truth? Truth.

But you ready to get your minds blown? God thinks we've got it all backwards, as usual. He wants us to celebrate every funeral as a wedding feast and every wedding feast? They actually celebrate two funerals. Say what?

Oh, yeah. God tells you that for your marriage to be what He wants it to be there's something right here in front of me that needs to die. Let's call it your ego. He does this in the weirdest way: by tying two lives together. You ever seen one or been in one of those three-legged races? They're a hoot. You get to use both your legs, but one of your legs is tied to another person's and you have to use em both together. And try running like that! At first, you stumble a lot. But the longer you keep at it, the more you begin to figure out how two people can actually run as one and then the fun really begins

There's Jesus' idea of how marriage can be a funeral. Because the impulse inside you Curtis and inside you, Jess, to run off and do your own thing is what gets to die. The impulse to always have it your way. I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it and you get in my way, I'll make you sorry. THAT's the sucker that has to be killed in both of you. You're tied together from now on. For better and for worse. For richer and for poorer. In sickness and in health. Now, it is entirely possibly for you to just not get used to this being tied together. What happens then is one of two things: one of the other of you pulls out a knife and slices through that rope and says: “There. We're done with that. Let's just go each do our thing.” That's sad. Race over. Or, and this is just as sad, two people stay tied together, never learning how to run together, and just grump and grouse at each other and about each other all the way to the end of the race. Yikes. In that case, what Jesus wanted to die, never gets to die at all.

But the picture I've given you so far isn't the whole deal. You see, marriage is not like Jesus reaching down and tying a rope around both of your ankles so that you “get hitched.” It's way more fun than that! Jesus reaches down and ties your ankle, Curtis, to HIS and then He reaches over and ties Jessica's to HIS. Do marriage his way and it's not a three legged race, it's a three PERSON race. I used to totally miss this: You heard Jesus say it earlier: “What God has joined together, let not man separate.” GOD is what joins together. He's between the two of you. He's the glue!

Jess, I'm gonna pick on you because you're my own flesh and blood. Curtis, let me ask you: You ever try winning an argument with this woman? Of course you have. You've tried. But you've found out it doesn't work. Wanna know why? Because even though you're gonna change her last name today, she's still a WEEDON and Weedons all have this weird genetic defect that they always believe they're right. If you don't believe me, just ask anyone married to a Weedon in the room and they'll set you straight. We're a messed up bunch. But here's where it gets interesting! 

She's ready to argue you down on anything, and you might be tempted sometimes to grab that knife and just cut the rope and get free, or to argue right back at her, whatever. You pull out the knife and Jesus looks at you: “Throw that thing away. You won't be needing it.” “But,” you begin. “No buts,” he says. “Time for a funeral. Because this isn't about what Curtis wants. Don't argue with her. Go tell her who she is in me. Tell her whom I am making her to be. Go say: Jess, I love you. You are an amazing woman. I am so glad that God brought us together. Come on, let's get moving!” And she'll be looking at you like you look at someone come back from the dead, because in a way, someone has!

Jessica, you're going to do the same for him. When you're tempted to say: “You know, Curtis, the problem with you is...” Jesus gives you that look. And the words and the thought die on your lips. “Tell him who he is in me,” says Jesus, “tell him who he is becoming as his life becomes love. Curtis, you're my rock. I love you so much. God has changed me so much through you. Thank you. Say that instead.”

And when either of you is saying in your head: I can't do that, Jesus is saing: “I think they’re getting this!” Of course you can't. Don't you see THAT'S why Jesus ties you together by tying you to HIM. Because where you don't have the strength of will, HE does. It's absolutely true that neither of you have the ability to forgive as much as the other has the ability to hurt. Welcome to the fallen human race! But HE'S the one who has already bleed to forgive the sins of every last one of us and that's the forgiveness He puts at your disposal to share with each other and to begin speaking into each other. 

So you do your marriage this way, you've got this mega-strange relationship going on, where marriage is your ongoing funeral to the ego's drive to have it your way, and where you speak the truth to each other of who they are becoming in Jesus. You know what happens? Jessica's grandma always used to say: “Little pictures have big ears” by which she meant that the kids are always listening in. Shaela and Anthony and Brooklyn and if God grants you even more. And they see and hear this weird way you're learning to live together. Know what? They say to Jesus: “Dear Jesus, please give me someone like that too. Someone you tie me to with you in the middle, so that I can run that race. Cause I want my life to be like theirs.” And how sweet is that?

Marriage is an ongoing funeral, but such a marriage means, when the funeral comes that it has all the joy of the marriage. Just like Jesus is there to pick you both up when either stumble and the three of you are on the ground, so when you fall to the ground that last time in this life, you'll close your eyes and open them again and Jesus will be right there. He'll be saying: “Get up!” And this time you'll never go down again. Now you can run together in true freedom. “I always told you that I had more forgiveness than you had sin and more life than you have death and now you see it. Come on into the great marriage feast that never ends! It's the ultimate homecoming and my whole goal in putting you guys together was so that you could all show up here.” And then, God willing, the two of you will run to the feast together arm in arm with your kids, laughing for joy all the way. You see, the path is funeral to wedding feast, and it's exactly the reverse of the way we tend to think.

One last thing: if it sounds like child's play, that's because it is. Jesus said if we ever hope to enter his kingdom we have to become like kids! And what do kids do? They play! People don't stop playing because they got old; they got old because they stopped playing. Jesus is inviting you into this great game, this three-personed race, where you get to die to ego, to self every single day, and where the ending of the whole shebang is wedding and more joy than you can imagine. Your married life can BE an adventure. Something a lot more fun than any serious grumps (grownups) can imagine. So you guys ready? On your mark, get set, go! In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

15 June 2018

Conflicted Remembering


With Father's Day coming up, memories abound... The weekend daddy bought me the piano... The silent car rides... The light of his cigar in the darkened car, as I headed out of my piano lesson and he drove me home... The day he took me car shopping with him (something I fear I never acquired a taste for; an evil to be endured rather than a pleasure to be savoured)... The year we chopped down our Christmas Tree over on Yeagers' farm... Me bugging him to help me rewire the lamp (Lauren has now) and how he tried to beg off with his head hurting so badly, the first hint of the cancer that killed him... Those horrible last days... Sissy and I having to change him and neither one dealing very well with it... The hand stretched out that I never took the day he died... Playing Bach's two part inventions as his last moments ticked by... Joe calling me in and then all of us around his bed at the end... The massive sense of loss that has never gone away.

Ours wasn't an easy relationship. There was always more than a little bit of tension between us. I suspect we just fundamentally didn't understand each other, and I know that I was one heck of a strange (and non-stop-talking) kid. He struggled to read; reading was my whole world. There was never any of the usual dad stuff. The only thing we ever played together was a card game called Rook or some Rummy. Never threw a ball around or anything like that. Never went fishing together or hunting. He had served in WWII and he liked to watch movies about General Patton. We often watched them together. But he never talked about it. I was always more than a little scared of him losing his temper and of his criticism. Spilling something at the table was always an ordeal. He had little patience (I get it honestly!). I don’t think he ever attended a piano recital I played in or a concert I sang in. He did come to church when I was baptized, and maybe once at Christmas. I didn't walk at my graduation, I think, in large part because it would be a bit painful to not have my parents there. But it was okay: I sat with Cindi's mom and dad and watched Cindi graduate!

I remember asking mom once about why he seemed so distant and disinterested. She said that he had a tough time growing up and that children who aren't shown lots of love when they're little often  don't know how to show love themselves when they get older. Her family always overflowed in love, and her daddy especially. I was a know-it-all teenager and I wasn't buying that as a legit excuse. I remember telling her: "I'm going to talk to him about it." I don't think she'd ever spoken so sharply to me: "I'll not have you hurting your father's feelings." That did it. I wasn't about to have mom mad at me. We never talked about it.

This will be my 38th father's day without him; I have thought so much about him this year. He loved in his own way, as best he could. We all muddle through and try to love through our own scars. And the gift of the piano and the lessons...that was huge. And I found out after he died that he had told one of his friends at work "You should hear that boy tickle the ivories!" I treasure that comment. It would have been nice to hear something like that from his own lips one time, but I am blessed to know he said it to someone and someone shared it. The gift of the piano was maybe the only way he could say "I love you" and it took me a long time to hear it, but I think I have. For that gift I am so utterly grateful; it changed the course of my life. And I love you too, Daddy. 


Just encountered

This review of Thank, Praise, Serve and Obey... I LOVE the way Pr. Koch describes the work. Check it out:

http://www.thebeggarsblog.com/book-reviews/2018/4/5/thank-praise-serve-and-obey-recover-the-joys-of-piety

12 June 2018

A Fun Show

With Peter Slayton and Pr. Demski on the last four petitions of the Our Father:

https://youtu.be/S0LArYPg070

11 June 2018

All Seven Grandkids Together






Happy birthday, Joshua Flynn!

This is grandson #2: Joshua Flynn, born on the Day of St. Barnabas. He's chronologically three today, but he works so hard to keep up with older brother and sister that he has a hard time remembering that. He's pretty sure he's five. He is feisty, fun, tough and tender.


09 June 2018

Whew!

Making the Case was a blast, as always. It's kind of like an LCMS homecoming event. Great to see folks and great to sing together some great songs of the faith.

08 June 2018

Lazarus and the Rich Man (Men!)


Pr. Bomberger preached to us this morning on last Sunday's Gospel: Lazarus and the Rich Man (er, men, Abraham being a rich man too). He left us in the full discomfort of that Gospel, its radical challenge to us. As he was preaching two ahas:

First: A great gulf (chasm) has been fixed

Fixed by whom? BY THE RICH MAN. It's the same as his gate that kept Lazarus at bay. He wanted to be alone. He barricaded himself from others. Finally, they couldn't reach him no matter how much they wanted to. 

Second: In this life you received your good things.

YOUR good things. The stuff that he thought was good: the fine chow and flashy duds and the nice house. But he didn't receive God's good things: the gift of His words (Moses and the Prophets) nor the gift of the brother to love. Lazarus was God's gift to the Rich Man, to coax him out of the isolation he was building around himself.

Pastor ended the chapel homily in the most stunning way. He cited our Lord's Word: "The poor you have with you always..." Left unsaid, "but you will not always have me." We heard it in our heads, but only there. And it was totally effective: I know it was for me.

The poor are here right now to love. The poor are just whoever in need God puts along our path to draw us out of our isolation and into love. Love, heaven, it is together: Lazarus and angels and Abraham and that is comfort and joy! Did you notice that the rich man didn't even ask to get out of the place he was in? He just wanted that place to be more comfortable. Send Lazarus to ease my thirst. 

So much to think about. Jesus gives us good things: His Word in Moses and the Prophets AND the people he surrounds us with to pull us out of the hell of our internal obsessions. The One who is raised from the dead won't convince anyone who won't listen to the Word, but if we listen to the Word we hear the Risen One's voice bidding us stop the digging of our isolating trenches and inviting us into life. Together. The picture of what Church is meant to be: the family of faith where no one is alone. No one. Today you will be with me in paradise!

07 June 2018

That moment when

Your senile dog, who has to wear diapers, sits in her WATER BOWL to eat her dinner. We're pretty sure she never even noticed...

Today’s Chapel


Prayer and Preaching, p. 260 
OT Canticle
Reading: Hebrews 12:27—13:6
Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens. This phrase "yet once more" indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that are made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 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. Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." 6 So we can confidently say,
  "The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
  what can man do to me?"

Homily

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

The bad news: things gonna get shaken up. The good news: there's something that doesn't shake and won't crumble and remains, stands, lasts. Thanks be to God that what you have received is what remains when all else is shaken to bits: a kingdom and you don't get one of those without a King. And your King lasts and so His kingdom lasts. You last. Your King and His kingdom lasts in the midst of all kinds of stuff that doesn't, that falls to pieces and crumbles to dust. And so in Him you get to offer to God worship that is acceptable, worship with fear and with awe, never forgetting for the least instant that your God is, after all, a consuming fire. A fire that lasts.

Images of the fire that fell from heaven to consume the cities of the plain; images of the fire that fell on the offering of Manoah and his wife; images of the fire that fell on the water-drenched offering of Elijah and evaporated all the H20 in sight! And images of Jesus on His cross: "I have a fire to cast upon the earth and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!"

That fire is everlasting love, and as awesome as such love it, it totally burns up everything that is not love in the end; what doesn't make it through love's fire is what is shaken and what finally fails. So the writer to the Hebrews is telling you not to be dumb: if it's all about love (and it always is), then doesn't it make sense to let everything you do be done in love. Keep loving each other as brothers, sons and daughters together of one Father. And that means there's no such thing as a stranger. As we sing in the great hymn by Luther, which I misunderstood for years: "That with hearts united we love each other, Every stranger, sister and brother." That's not a list of three categories of people so that you love the stranger, your sister and your brother. That's saying that every stranger IS your sister or brother! So hospitality. Kindness. Sharing what you have been blessed with with them. They are all "my peeps." Yours too. Especially the household of faith, but also everyone that God calls to belong to the household of faith. That doesn't leave anyone out. And when you do this hospitality to the stranger, there are times you end up getting a visit from an angel. And angels come to serve you. When you are living in hospitality, it is not you are serving your guests, but your guests who are serving yuou, letting you live in love. Images of Abram at the Oaks of Mamre lifting his eyes in the heat of the day and then running to greet the three strangers who showed up at his tent. The Son of God and two angels! And so the misfortunes of others are yours too: someone locked up; you're locked up with them. Remember them, pray for them, visit them, encourage them. Someone mistreated for the name of Christ? You feel the smart in your own body, because, after all, you are one body with them in Him. That person's pain is yours. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. That's what love does. That's the gift of what lasts in Jesus.

And love doesn't just do. Love also doesn't. It doesn't use another person to gratify some sexual or emotional itch in a casual and careless way. Love honors the marriage bed. Love knows that God judges those who stray sexually either outside or within marriage. Love doesn't traffic in other's bodies with zero concern for their person. Love honors marriage, and the persons who are part of it.
And love doesn't pretend that the money and stuff is all there for me, for me to keep piling up for myself in the fear that there's not going to be enough. Ha! Love knows better. Love knows a contentment with what one has, because what one has is the Lord! The King. Unshakeable. And so the kingdom, unshakeable. And He's never going to throw you over for something else. "Never will I leave you, never forsake you." Never. Not ever.

And in response to that love that is like a consuming fire and yet that only consumes everything in your lives that isn't love, you begin to learn what it is to live without fear. Like Shadrach and Meshach and Abednego you learn the dance moves in the fire. What is there to be afraid of in THAT fire? If you have HIM, that's the one thing needed, no? And isn't He the one who is dancing in the flames beside you? The flames then don't hurt you or set you ablaze. The flames free you. Love frees you. Jesus frees you.

Because isn't the name of this Love just Jesus? Isn't He the fire? Isn't He the one who loves you as His own brothers and sisters? And shows you the amazing hospitality of inviting you to His table to sit with Him and share in the most astounding feast of all? And isn't He the One who refused to ever deal with anyone as so much meat for sexual gratification, the One who never walked by a person in need out of fear of not having enough for Himself? Isn't He the one who in the perfect fire of divine love that He Himself is, dances in your flesh with joy to entice you to let loose the fear that is always going around trying to grab up all the shakable stuff; to let it go, and to hold instead a hand with a nail scar and let Him lead you on the dance of your life? Finish then, Thy new creation, pure and spotless let us be, let us see thy great salvation perfectly restored in thee, changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place, till we cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love and praise. Love divine. All Loves excelling. What lasts. Love. Jesus. You in Him and He in you.

Hymn of the Day: #700 Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

Intercessions:
For Michelle and all who mourn, for Amy, Craig, Paula, Roger, Ruth, Allen and Jan
Missionaries: Pr. Adam and Christine Lehman in Spain

01 June 2018

Thy Strong Word

One of the great joys of my life is getting to read and ponder a chapter of God’s Word most every weekday on KFUO’s Thy Strong Word. Today’s chapter was Jeremiah 39 and I got to do it with long time internet friend, Pr. Rolf Preus, whom I’ve still never had the privilege of meeting in person. Was an honor to have him on the show today. He’s a man who is as in love with the hymns of our church as I am!

29 May 2018

Blessed


Any longtime readers of this blog know how very blessed Cindi and I have been in our children. We have stood in amazement and awe as their personalities unfolded; and they have usually kept us in stiches! The weird thing about our family is that we actually do really LIKE spending time together: us with them and they with us. But today I want to reflect on the blessing that their spouses have been to us, too.

Dean...we still remember when Lauren came home from college and told us about this "amazing" person! We knew it was over right then and there. She's been proven right, though: he is amazing. Read the great homily he preached at the wedding (and if only you all could get all the insider stuff he packed in there!). He's a loving husband, and a great dad to their (soon to be) five children. He hunts, he camps, he loves to visit his shutins AND he loves Apple products (need I say more?). Oh, and he has an equally "amazing" dad, who is Pappy to our grandchildren. His mom was one of the most loving and giving people I've ever had the joy to know. Dean's a great combo of both.

Meaghan...I remember when she and David were dating and preparing to walk out the door, and she went through the litany: "David, do you have your keys? Your cellphone? Your wallet?" Cindi and I turned to each other after they closed the door and exclaimed: "She HAS to marry him." Meaghan is David's true soul mate: a perfectionist like him, and a lover of beauty, but also someone to keep his artist's soul grounded. She is good at so many things: being a mommy, a doctor of physical therapy (aka professional torturer) and an astonishing photographer. It makes me happy that they surround my grandchildren with beauty and order. (Wait, how did she get David to be concerned about order?). And then there are Meaghan's parents and grandparents (she has a full set!) whom we treasure so much. Amazing, loving, and joyous people!

Andrew...They met via a mistake, that was absolutely no mistake. Their first date was at Hope Lutheran Church in St. Louis! I didn't think I'd ever meet someone who could dote on nephews and nieces quite so naturally as Bekah, but then Andy came along. Lauren was right: the kids think of him as a giant toy. All his nieces and nephews on both sides adore him. I think that speaks volumes. Like for Dean, I suspect the roucous nature of our family was a bit of an adjustment. I won't even go into what happened the first time he met his future sister-in-law! But he fit in with grace and was soon joining in the laughter and dishing it out as fast as it was served up to him! I hope Dr. and Mrs. Ibisch DO end up with a ton of kids, because these two would be so awesome as parents. Although we've only met Andy's parents and siblings briefly in the last month, we already treasure them and are thankful that he grew up in a God-fearing Lutheran household, and we look forward to getting to know them better in the future.

Which leads into my last point. These wonderful blessings, my three children by grace to compliment my three by nature, are all faithful Christians of the Lutheran persuasion. Church will be an important part of all my grandchildren's lives (the vital gathering where we week by week feast on the joys of the Age to come in Word and Eucharist) and they will grow up knowing the Scriptures and singing hymns, learning their catechism and praying with their families. Thank you, Lord, thank you so much for this greatest blessing of all! Thank you for our "other" children: Dean and Meaghan and Andy.




27 May 2018

Wedding Homily

by the Rev. Dean Herberts

Andy & Rebekah!  Don't look at me but look at each other and see the gift God is giving to each of you!


"The two shall become one flesh."  To all the animals God only says, "Be fruitful and multiply."  And how I do hope & expect if God wills it that you have as many children as you do in your wedding party, however, God's gift of marriage is unique to human kind.  God's gift of marriage is more than "being fruitful and multiplying."


As husband and wife, you compliment one another, find delight in each other and serve with love an honor.


Andy you may love golfing.

Rebekah you may love a silly beagle dog and hippogriffs but that isn't the love you share as husband and wife.


Andy and Andy's Rebekah you may love all the people in this room, your parents, your siblings, your nieces & nephews and obviously your brother-in-law, but that isn't the love you share as husband and wife as God says, "man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife."


What you share is a love which is head over heels for each other.  There is that silly statement, "What's yours is mine and what is mine is mine."  Well, forget that!  All that stuff.. the money, the hobbies, yes, even the family, none of that matters as long as Andy has Rebekah and Rebekah has Andy.  "And the two shall become one flesh.  So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What God has joined together let not man separate."


Of course your marriage cannot be as it is intended unless it is a part of another marriage.  That is the marriage of Christ and His bride The Church. 


Without Christ, your marriage is no different than the rest of creation hookups, "be fruitful and multiply." Without Christ Jesus you would be incapable of loving each other in any form of the word as scripture says, "We love because He first loved us."


Without Christ, His incarnation, His life, His death, His resurrection, marriage would be destined to fail.  For if He is not risen then we are not forgiven and we could not practice forgiveness with each other and with no forgiveness all relationships would fail, but CHRIST our bridegroom is Risen!  He laid down His life for you His bride washing away your sins and presenting you as His perfect bride.


Yes, true marriage love, loving you so much that He gave up his 'godly' comforts to dwell among us His creation and endure the curse of sin and giving His life for what He loves,,.. You, His bride, The Church.


Marriage love, head over heels in love for the other. 


Andy you will confess that you will live in the holy estate of matrimony as God ordained it.  That you will nourish and cherish Rebekah as Christ loved His body, the Church, giving Himself up for her.  That you will love, honor, and keep Rebekah in sickness and in health and, forsaking all others, remain united to her alone, so long as you both shall live.


Rebekah similarly you will confess that you will live in the holy state of matrimony as God ordained it.  That you will submit to Andy as the Church submits to Christ.  That you will love, honor and keep him in sickness and in health and forsaking all others, remain united to him alone, so long as you both shall live.


Both of you have the joy of practicing loving, serving, and forgiving each other from this day until God calls one of you to rest from your labors.  So God willing you will have A LOT of practice loving, serving and forgiving just as Christ does for you.


How wonderful for you two that you share in confession like Ruth and Naomi, "where you go I will go, where you lodge I will lodge.  Your people shall be my people, and your God my God." And as St. Peter states, that  you are heirs of the grace of life.


What joy it is for you Andy and Andy's Rebekah to share in faith that the gift of marriage you enter into today points you to an even greater marriage that not even death can separate.  


Andy & Rebekah, don't look at me.  Look at each other and Jesus.  See the gift that God has given you here today with each other and the marriage feast to come that has no end with your Savior Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.  Amen!


And one of my personal favorites...



The look that says: “You, sir, are responsible for this.” And the look back that says: “Yes, maam. I most certainly am.”

A couple more...

...with (I'm sure) many more to follow:

What great joy!

Yesterday I gave my youngest into the arms of her beloved, and so received the gift of another son. Pastor Ball presided, Pastor Herberts preached an awesome homily (I hope to post it later), and then we had a great time celebrating with Bekah and Andy and always remembering that their marriage is to be a reflection of the love between our Heavenly Bridegroom and the Church. Just a handful of pics:

21 May 2018

Getting Real

This weekend, God willing, my youngest will wed her beloved, Andrew Ibisch, at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Hamel. It's all getting real. Today they got keys to their new home and we helped them start moving stuff in. Andy will be staying there after Tuesday. Family begins arriving tomorrow: Lauren and children, first. Wednesday brings Dean and possibly Aunt Sandy. Friday Aunt Dee, Uncle Keith, Savannah and Aunt Debbie and Uncle Doug. Not sure when cousin Russ and his fiance arrive. 

This wedding will be different for me (and I'm loving it): I just get to be the dad! Son-in-law Dean will preach and Pastor Ball will be liturgist. Carlo will return to St. Paul's organ bench for the service (and there'll be a LOT of Bach and one Bish). David is singing Starke's lovely "Gracious Savior, Grant Your Blessing."

The wedding is rather small, as per Bekah's and Andy's preference. We'll only be about 75 all told. And for the reception? How fun is this: we'll be doing salad, pizza (Bekah: "Who doesn't love pizza?"), beer and wine and lemonade and water. There'll of course be cake and some personal pies. AND we'll have a whole parcel full of the bride and groom's nieces and nephews (eleven children six and under!) to keep things lively. 

18 May 2018

Chapel Homily (Exaudi Nos Gospel)

Chapel 5.18.18

Welcome to the Board of Directors.

The Order of Matins begins on p. 219ff. Please Stand.

Hymn of the Day: 539 Christ Is the World's Redeemer

Reading [EHV]

26"When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father—he will testify about me. 27And you also are going to testify, because you have been with me from the beginning."

16:1"I have told you these things so that you will not fall away. 2They will put you out of the synagogues. In fact, a time is coming when anyone who murders you will think he is offering a service to God. 3They will do these things because they have not known the Father or me. 4But I have told you these things so that when their time comes, you may remember that I told them to you."

Easter Responsory, p. 222

Homily:

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

I think in our day it is easy to hear a reading like this and to think right away of the growing hostility that the world shows to our faith. But I don't think in that case we'd really be grasping what Jesus is getting at here. You see, the world never puts anyone out of the synagogue, the gathering of people to hear God's Word read and preached. The world may well murder Christians (and it has and does), but it doesn't think that doing so is in any way offering some sort of service, latria, liturgy, to God. The world doesn't care about offering anything to God. No, to take the words of today's Gospel and apply them to opposition from the world is to miss something vital.

From the get go, the hatred was on two fronts. The pressure of the world to conform to its ideas, to be governed by its values, to validate its lies. And yes, Caesar still can get testy on this point as we readily see and shouldn't be the least bit surprised about. But the other front is the one Jesus was dealing with in today's reading. The opposition that arises from within the assembly of those who gather to hear and ponder the Word. One name comes to mind right away, doesn't it? Saul of Tarsus.

Here's a man who put folks out of the synagogues, consented to the death of Christ's witness, His martyr, St. Stephen after Stephen courageously testified about Him, and who zealously absconded with Christians property, threw men and women into jail, and decided they deserved the death penalty. And he did it all for the glory of God. All in good conscience and with the conviction that God was pleased with Him and delighted in such zeal for His law, such repudiation of a manifest fraud.

"He came to His own and His own received Him not." And they THEY came to their own and their own received them not either.

But have you ever wondered what it was about Jesus and about the message He gave His apostles to carry that could produce such a visceral and vicious reaction from people who loved and listened all the time to God's Word? What is it about Jesus that ticked off those like Saul? What could possibly produce this murderous hatred?

I don't think we need to hunt further than the story Jesus told in Luke 15. "This man receives sinners and eats with them…" The love of the Father for the son who had gotten lost and so was dead, but who came back and was welcomed, embraced, and all without asking him to make reparations or do anything. Just welcomed back because he was his son and he loved him. And then the old brother. Here's the opposition in today's reading. The older brother who is ticked off. "Look, these many years I have served you and never disobeyed your command." He feels so angry, so taken for granted, so presumed on, when his life of trying to please his father and do his father's will is, apparently, no better than that of his father's other son who broke every commandment with impunity and crept back home with his tail between his legs only to be welcomed? Loved? Celebrated? Seriously? NO WAY.

Have you ever dwelt on the tenderness of the Father's response? He doesn't yell at the older son. He doesn't shame him any more than he shamed his younger brother. He speaks to him with such tenderness: "Son, you are with me always. All that is mine is yours. Share my joy. It was fitting for us to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found."

Just like he dealt in mercy with Saul in all his self-righteous blindness. Just like he deals with you and me. Jesus really does welcome sinners and eats with them. And he pats the seat beside himself and says: "You too. Come on, join in. Let it go. You qualify" And when you imagine: "But wait a cotton pickin minute. They need to repent. They need to at least try to turn their lives around. It's not fair." He responds with kindness and love: "No, not fair at all. Come and enter into my joy. Here's the gift of a brother or sister for you to come to know and to treasure. And I want you to be a free son and not a slave."

Maybe if the Church has stopped having opposition from the religious, from hearers of the Word, I wonder if its because we've stopped following our Lord and have sounded a false gospel; at least if people have heard from us a false gospel. "You have to at least try. You have to repent, you have to give it your best at going and sinning no more, then the Lord will forgive you." Whereas the gospel that upset Saul, together with all the lovers of the Law among the first century Jews, was rather: "Where are you accusers? Neither do I condemn you; now go and sin no more. Take heart, your sins are forgiven!" Do you hear the vital difference?

People loved by God, I dare say that if WE honestly proclaimed the Christ whose love upon His cross simply reaches out and continuously embraces each of us and absolutely everyone else, just as we and they actually are, and without any conditions or limits; if we learned from Him to embrace and welcome each fellow sinner and not imply to that person how they need to change or at least try, in order to be loved, but trust that the love of Christ in which we hold them tight is the power — the ONLY power that ever changes a person, then it wouldn't be long before the outcries would happen again: "What are you all up to!?! You're not taking sin seriously! You've got to fix people; you can't just love them. What are you thinking!" Wouldn't that be a blessed thing? Not merely to have the opposition from the world that arises when we proclaim God's Law, but to have the opposition from the religious that arises when we preach the authentic Gospel? May God grant us such troubles and may they come soon! Amen.



Please stand. We continue with the Kyrie on page 227

16 May 2018

An Interesting Piece on Gottesdiesnt

By Dr. Stephenson, addressing why Lutherans (who stand with our Confessions) ought to care and care a great deal about the trouble that is brewing among our Roman brothers and sisters. Give it a read and let Dr. Stephenson know your thoughts in the comments section:

13 May 2018

Action packed



That's how the weekend was around here. Friday afternoon, soon-to-be son-in-law, Andrew Ibisch became Dr. Andrew Ibisch. I missed the festivities with work, but Cindi and Bekah were there, as well as all Andy's family. That evening we headed up to Springfield Illinois for our usual pinochle evening and dinner with the Van Ulfts and Klingers. Saturday, David and kids arrived early, and work commenced on a dinner. All Andy's family (except for Becky) came over in the afternoon. I think we had 17 here that day for the meal. David worked on the meat (brats, burgers, hotdogs), Cindi and Bekah prepared several side dishes. Yours truly helped entertain grandchildren and was appropriately decorated:


After the meal, I ran to town to do some last minute shopping for Mother's Day. We finished the day with some Downton. Today we headed to Church for Exaudi (LOVE the hymns for this last Sunday of Easter). We got home and David set to work again, with Bekah helping. He made fish tacos. We were all skeptical, but he swore they were amazing and Meaghan backed him up. Long story short: amazing is too weak a word. We devoured them! Here's the feast set in honor of the mothers: Cindi, Meaghan, and Lois.


(And please, notice David's tongue. This is surely an odd genetic quirk. He is just like his great grandma, Nana, who always stuck her tongue out when she was concentrating on any work at hand!). 

Bekah worked hard at the cleanup and then we headed out to the pool


Oliver and Meaghan, Opa and Lois, opted to stay inside, but the pool was really great. A bit more quiet pool time for Cindi and I after everyone left (you know it's bad when you wake yourself up snoring in the pool), and then we watched a bit more Downton. Sadly, it is coming to the end again. 

So it was a busy, crazy, wonderful weekend. And I still can't believe we got to enjoy the pool the first and second weekends of May. And the craziness ratchets up as we head toward the weekend of the wedding and the arrival of out of town guests. So very much to thank God for!

02 May 2018

Today’s Chapel Homily: Ephesians 5:15–21


Chapel 5.2.18
Commemoration of St. Athanasius, the man who stood against the world to proclaim that Jesus is one with the Father, of the same substance, God of God and Light of Light, who suffered much for that confession and refused to compromise it, thanks be to God! And today we have the joy of welcoming the participants in the LCEF High School Entrepreneur Competition. Welcome and best wishes to each of you as you persuasively share your bright ideas and good solutions!
Our liturgy today is the Service of Prayer and Preaching. Hymnals are under the chairs in front of you. We turn to page 260. Please stand.

Reading:
Ephesians 5:15–21 (ESV): 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Homily

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

I hope you will pardon a redo of the text, but if I were trying to get its meaning into English, it would run rather along these lines:
Watch out how you're walking, not like blind lost fools who don't know where they're headed, but as people with smarts who know exactly the destination of this trip called life. So don't get side-tracked in all the diversions, because these days the diversions are massively enticing and they meet you at every turn. So don't be dummies. Grasp what the Lord's will is. And it's not getting plastered with wine (or anything like that), because that never furthers the journey, that's just a waste and you know it. Instead, let God intoxicate you with His Spirit as He keeps pouring Him into you and as a result you open your mouths and talk to each other and all kinds of music erupts: psalms and hymns and spirit songs, singing with your mouths but above all tuned in to the vibe of the Lord in your heart, so that thanksgiving resonates, literally rings out from you all the time and for every last thing to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and remembering in the fear of Jesus, —because He's the Lord, not you—to be humble and so dump your own agenda for others and adopt His.
Okay, so that's not a good translation. It's not even a paraphrase, but it's my best shot at getting us into the mind of Paul this morning.

Watch how you walk. Don't know about you, but I love walking, and do it most every single day. And I have a goal. Gotta get meet my vitality numbers. If I don't hit 10K, the wife and I will walk around the inside of our house in circles. Yeah, we're that silly. And Paul's pointing out how easy it is to do that in life itself. We forget where we're headed and end up going nowhere. Isaiah 35 is one of my favorite passages. It talks about where we're headed as coming home to Zion. And that's sweet. But there's more. I think Paul wants you to see the open arms of your Jesus, waiting for you. Waiting to hold you. Waiting to show you all that He died and rose again to give you. He's your goal. Those open arms. Stay focused on them, Paul is saying. And he knows how easily it is to forget that. To get distracted, diverted by all the sideshows, and so to waste what life is here for. Life is not here for you to down the third martini or smoke the fourth bowl of weed. You ever watch a person who's high or drunk try to walk, let alone dance with rhythm and grace? Me either. The Father's got something bigger and better for you than that or any other diversion of this life. He's given you Jesus. And to get you to your Jesus, the Father pours out the Spirit. Get drunk on Him, Paul says, swallow Him down again and again.

Can't help but wonder if Paul was thinking about the story that John tells in chapter 7, when the great day of the feast arrives and Jesus disrupts the liturgy right as they're pouring out the water. Are you thirsty? Then you need to come to me and let the one who believes in me drink, for as the Scripture say, out of His heart will flow rivers of living water. John adds: This He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive.

Drink down some Spirit then. In the LXX of the 23 Psalm, the text doesn't say that my cup overflows, it says, and His cup of inebriation, how sweet it is! That's the Spirit!

And the Spirit he gets us going, moving, walking in step with Jesus and toward Jesus with music. He wants us sing it to each other. So don't be one of those lame Christians who plants their posterior in a pew and scowls in silence at the hymn book as music is coaxing you to move. Music is a we thing, not a me thing. All the verbs here are running in the second person plural. Y'all open those mouths and use them to sing God's Word into each other. Yes, you. You know who you are. The Spirit's vibes attune us to the beating heart of God Himself. You know, I said I like to walk. I've lately discovered Lindsey Stirling and her magic violin and now she's what I walk to most days and have you ever noticed how when you're walking with music, the music changes how you walk. You move your body in synch with the vibes that are washing over you. Paul says that's how it is with the Spirit and it shows up not just in what we say to each other and sing to each other, but he mentions two things that mark the person who is grooving with the Spirit:

Thanksgiving. Everything is gift. All the time. Never stops. The person whose heart beats with God and in whom the Spirit sings, that's a life that's got eyes open to see the gift that is Jesus to whom we're headed AND how all encompassing He is. In the twin letter to the one we read from today, in Colossians, Paul says everything hangs together in Him and that He is everything and in everything. The point of it all. The heartbeat of Jesus is the music of the cosmos; it rings through it all and was opened right there on the tree when He poured out His blood: I love you. I forgive you. You are precious to me. You are mine. Forever. I will never let anything separate you from me. It's the most amazing love song ever sung, and when you hear it and your heart begins to beat with its rhythm, you realize that His gifts shower down on you nonstop. And your life fills up and overflows with gratitude. If He did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not along with Him freely give us all things? Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!

So thanksgiving, but also humility. The vibe of Jesus is humble. It puts the kibosh on using others, manipulating them, insisting on your own will and getting it by hook or by crook. That gets to die in the fear of Christ (which for some unknown reason the ESV softens to reverence; it's not reverence, it's phobos; fear like a phobia), in the fear of Christ we put ourselves in service to others and ask them: Tell me what I can do to help you here, what would be a blessing to you now? There's no fear here of being turned into a doormat. There's only the fear of not pleasing the One who went to the Cross for us, the One who is the Lord and who invites our lives into doxology also in the way we treat each other.

I think in this passage from Ephesians 5, Paul was hearing the melody and beat of Isaiah 35. We're marching to Zion. Marching home. Home to Jesus with His wide open arms. So no getting distracted by what's going on beside the way, all that's beside the point. And for heaven's sake, help each other along as we walk arm in arm by singing the songs that vibrate with the heart-beat of God in human flesh. A heart that began beating in the Virgin's womb, felt silent on Golgotha, but that now beats forevermore, filled with a love that animates this universe, inspires our song and calls us home to endless thanksgiving and humble service.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Hymn: 669 "Come We That Love the Lord"

For all who cry out for the healing of Christ upon their bodies especially Roger, Ruth, Allen, Jan, and those we name in our hearts…. Let us pray to the Lord: R.
For Pr. Roger and Amy James in Sri Lanka and for all missionaries that Christ would sustain them in the difficulties they encounter, fill their hearts with His joy, and make them lively witnesses to His resurrection, let us pray to the Lord: R.
For the work of LCEF in fostering a spirit of innovative service among the young people of the church, let us pray to the Lord: R.

26 April 2018

Today’s Homily

Service of Prayer and Preaching, p. 260ff.

Reading: 1 Cor. 15:12–28

1 Corinthians 15:12–28 (ESV): 12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For "God has put all things in subjection under his feet." But when it says, "all things are put in subjection," it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. 

Responsory: p. 263

Homily

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

A couple months ago someone said it to me again. I'd heard it a thousand times before: "I just don't know how those without faith get through it." And I remember that it hit me rather like a ton of bricks that I don't believe what that implies. I don't believe that our faith makes facing death easier. In fact, I think our faith makes it harder. 

We are surrounded by people who are convinced that death is simply the last stage of life. That it may send you off on a journey or it just may be the end of you. Either way, it's fine. To have lived and loved and breathed and known others and been loved, hey, what more could you ask for? Like Socrates sipping the hemlock in complete equanimity, like those who have been catechized by John Lennon's song Imagine. Death happens. It's natural. It's all good. That's NOT hard. That's easy.

You want hard? You stand by the coffin of someone you love and you look long and hard at that body which no amount of makeup from the undertaker can disguise as being, to quote the Munchkins, not just really dead, but really most sincerely dead. To stand by that and say: Nevertheless this body will be raised again. And to believe that. That's not just hard. That's impossible. That's crazy. 

You want the proof? Read the New Testament. That entire collection of documents is about a bunch of guys having their minds blown by seeing a man they knew and loved die, really die, dead and buried dead, and then encountering him again. Not his spirit, not his mind, but his body. Yeah, doing weird stuff with that body that they couldn't begin to fathom, but THE fact that just seemed so impossible was that it was his real body, the one with the prints of the nails and the hole in the side. His body, not just animated like a zombie, but incorruptible. Alive forevermore. Yeah, they KNEW it sounded crazy. They KNEW it sounded impossible. They KNEW it was hard, not easy. And none better than the man who wrote the words of our reading today.

He was convinced it was all fraud. Pure and simple. A lie. But then he too had the experience. Saw him. Heard him. Alive, not dead. In that body. And everything he'd ever thought about God, himself, the world, it flew out the window in that instant when the formerly dead Jew, in shining glory, knocked him off his high horse and made him with the others a witness to the resurrection.

Okay, so Jesus is raised from the dead. But what does that mean? What are its implications? What it mean for the dead body of the one you love? What does it mean for you in your failing flesh? That's where the Corinthians were. Apparently the idea had even taken hold that those who died before the glorious Appearing of Christ again, they were just lost. Too bad, so sad. As though there were no resurrection of the rest of the dead. Paul's like: No, No, NO! Look, if there is no resurrection, then Jesus Himself is not raised and the witness we've been giving about God raising Him from death is a LIE and we are then of all men most to be pitied, going around lying about God. Heaven's sake! No resurrection of the dead, no resurrection of Jesus. That's Paul's point. 

And then BUT. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. So sins forgiven, death destroyed. And he's just the first fruits. The start, there's more to follow. Cause just like everyone died in Adam, everyone's going to live in Christ. But we won't see it until that appearing, and then we'll see. Christ, those who died in Him alive forevermore, and the generation alive at that moment changed, as the "last enemy" is destroyed forever.

Not easier. Harder. Crazy! Who can believe it? Even the Apostles struggled. Don't you love that bit in Matthew 28. When they saw Him, they worshipped, but some doubted, right before sending them out to make disciples of all nations with the news of His resurrection and all it brings? Wrapping your mind around the resurrection IS the New Testament. The Apostles and Evangelists, they are not writers of fairy tales. They didn't shed their blood for some silly story they concocted after too much wine. They shed their blood in the conviction that they had encountered the supreme instance where truth was stranger than fiction. Christ lives. In His body. Forever. You will live. In your body. Forever. Death has been destroyed; death will be destroyed. 

Their proclamation still resounds. No, our faith doesn't make death easier. Won't let you make it easier. Death is never your friend. Don't try to make peace with it. It's not natural and not a part of life. It's the invader, an enemy but an enemy that Christ has already destroyed in Himself and will destroy in you on the day of His appearing. The New Testament proclaims something like this: Christ's resurrection has chopped the head off Death and it's running around like it's still got a head, but you'll be there when it keels over. And you'll see it. With the eyes of your body. For yes, it is true: alleluia, alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia. 


Hymn:486 "If Christ Had Not Been Raised from Death"

Prayers: Ruth, Roger, Allen, Jan, Military Chaplain Paul Weber