27 June 2024

Great Quote from Book of Concord

It can easily be judged that if the churches observed ceremonies correctly, their dignity would be maintained and reverence and piety would increase among the people.—AC, Part Two Intro (6)

25 June 2024

Verna Langendorf Thoughts

The day we pulled into St. Paul’s from North Carolina was July 15, 1992.  Easy to remember, because it was my son’s fourth birthday (he got a football that year—which, if you know him or me is really funny. Neither of us had the first clue what to do with it!). We had been in St. Paul’s parsonage many times as students. Mrs. Dressler loved to invite the students over after service. She’d have some cold beers ready for the gents and some iced tea for Cindi. But this time we looked at the house in a different way: it was destined to be our home (and though we didn’t know it then, it would end up being our home for nearly 20 years). We got out, stretched, and made our way inside. 

And there she was. Verna, you see, was not completely satisfied with what the trustees had done to get the place ready for the new pastor. She thought it needed more cleaning. Even though there was a funeral going on in the Church (for Mae Isenberg), she opted to work on cleaning up the parsonage a bit more before we arrived. I remember she was embarrassed because she was dusty and dirty from her labors that day, but that smile. I will never forget that smile. She welcomed us back to St. Paul’s with such warmth and then promptly cleared out so we could unload the little bit of stuff we had.

By the time we came back to St. Paul, she no longer sang in the choir. “I can’t sing anymore.” I remember both her and Norma (Toots) saying that. But they told me that when they were younger, they loved to do the dishes after dinner, because how else do you do them but standing at the sink and singing their favorite hymns? Verna was always in Bible Class and she and Leroy next to never missed a regular service. They’d be there New Year’s and Ascension and well, just about any time the bell was being rung!

I can see her laboring in the kitchen before sausage supper. She fried up the bacon that flavored the green beans. She shared with me at the last sausage supper how in the old days they had to dress up to serve the sausage supper: dresses and heels even! I think she was very glad that we’re a bit more relaxed these days.

And she was famous for her meticulous care of her front yard. She was still out there with her push mower not too many weeks ago.  

She always was faithful not just at the early service (7:45 is going to have a BIG hole in it!), but at Bible Class. She rarely raised her hand to add in a comment, but you could tell from her alert eyes that she was totally engaged in whatever we were studying. She loved the Word of God, even as she loved the hymns of the Church.

Today we buried her. Pastor Gleason kindly asked me to assist in the liturgy. I think she’d pretty much picked out the readings herself (just like I’d encouraged folks to do years ago). Isaiah 40, Romans 8 and Matthew 6 (from which her confirmation verse was taken). The hymns were “A Mighty Fortress”, “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” and “For All the Saints.” Pastor delivered a beautiful and comforting homily. The school children sang “I am Jesus’ Little Lamb” and “God Will Wipe Away All Tears”. There were trumpets and Austin treated us on the Violin. The family had asked Cindi to sing “Eagle’s Wings” which she did. I am always amazed at all the music that Kantor manages to pull off for us—and I was so thankful she did it today for Verna. 

As we got into the lead car to head down to the cemetery for the committal, Cliff (funeral director) jokingly asked: “So what? You have to pass a music test to join your church?” He said that of course they did funerals at tons of churches but none of them sing like St. Paul’s. It’s true! And the singing was particularly joyous today. We were thankful to God for the gift of Verna, and for the eternal life that He has promised her (and Ron too, very much in our thoughts and hearts today). Her only sibling still on the pilgrimage, Frieda, made it to the service and to the graveside. She joined the many, many folks who gathered to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving for the gift Verna was to her beloved husband, to her children and grandchildren, to all her family and to her family of faith at St. Paul’s. The church was quite full.

We’ll miss you, Verna. Big time. 

22 June 2024

Daily Office

I remember the day I picked up this little volume as a student at Concordia College in Bronxville. My Anglican friend, Duncan, and I disagreed on whether or not there existed a Lutheran breviary. He insisted that he had seen one, but I never had. So I went hunting at the “Coop” (where you could buy candy bars, soda, and also theology!). And lo and behold! Duncan was right and I was wrong. It was with great delight that I purchased this little volume and have used it off and on over the years ever since. That was in the fall of 1980! 

What I originally thought was a bug in the layout, turned out to be a feature. I mean that it assigns, but one Psalm for Matins and another for Vespers on a given week (it does have the minor festivals included). And that it didn’t include the full readings, instead it follows the German custom of providing a “Spruchvers” from the table of readings provided in The Lutheran Hymnal. 

Since I’ve been doing my daily Bible reading for a few months by following the old Lutheran Worship schedule (thank you, Pr. Kevin Martin!), I’ve learned to content myself with praying from The Daily Office exactly as it is printed. So I repeat the same Psalms morning and evening for a week (if there are no festivals) and just use the single verse. And wow! It works. It works very, very well. 

One of the amazing features of the work is the provision of a variety of litanies. During Pentecost week there was a Litany to the Holy Spirit. This past week has provided a litany for the mission of the Church. As I indicated in a prior post, CPH has wisely in my opinion re-released this classic Lutheran breviary and it can be ordered here. It really is great work for any who desire a simple way to join in the church’s tradition of the canonical hours. It also provides in an appendix for the office at Prime, Terce, Sext, None and Compline as well as an Iternarium before travel. 

Cindi and I continue to pray together from the Treasury, but as Pr. David Petersen noted years ago, that’s kind of a “single office” book. This return to the old classic has been a refreshing change. It just makes praying Matins and Vespers each day so very simple. 

21 June 2024

Don’t Mess with the Ladies

In traditional Western art, you will notice that it is the Blessed Virgin whose foot stomps the serpent’s head. This is due to the Vulgate rendition of Gen. 3:15: SHE will crush your head. The Woman will crush the serpent’s head? Hmm. Well, see Treasury p. 40, where Luther’s Babylonian Captivity supplies the writing for the day: “In this word of promise Adam, together with his descendants, was carried as it were in God’s bosom, and by faith in it he was preserved, waiting patiently for the woman who should bruise the serpent’s head as God had promised.” But then also think about this:

You read in Judges the story of Jael and Sisera, and there is no way that Gen. 3 does not come to mind.

Judges 5:23-27 (ESV) 23 “Curse Meroz, says the angel of the LORD, curse its inhabitants thoroughly, because they did not come to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty. 24 “Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, of tent-dwelling women most blessed. 25 He asked for water and she gave him milk; she brought him curds in a noble’s bowl. 26 She sent her hand to the tent peg and her right hand to the workmen’s mallet; she struck Sisera; she crushed his head; she shattered and pierced his temple. 27 Between her feet he sank, he fell, he lay still; between her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell--dead.

Says the angel of the Lord! That is, the words “Most blessed of women be Jael” are words from an angel! She proved to be the unlikely instrument through whom God wrought a great salvation in Israel, as the angel made this clear in the song, and she did so by crushing the enemy’s head.

Then, of course, there’s another text along similar lines. This one from the Apocrypha. A woman again, this time Judith, triumphs over the enemy by…removing his head! (You noting a pattern?) As she carries General Holoferenes’ head back to Uzziah, the old man says to her: “O daughter, you are blessed by the Most High above all women on earth!” (Judith 13:18) A woman again became the unlikely instrument through whom God wrought a great salvation.

NOW you go to Luke 1:28 (reading with the Majority Text), and another Angel, Gabriel, announces to Mary that she is “blessed among women” and later Elizabeth will declare the same (Luke 1:42). That should make Satan VERY nervous about the state of his head!

With this declaration, and the connection to the Judith and Jael, you can see why Western art pictures the Blessed Virgin stomping on the serpent’s head and crushing it. Of course, she does in very different way from her two predecessors among womanly blessedness with their bloody violence; Mary simply does it by speaking her fiat to God and then by giving birth to her Son, giving birth to the One Human that Satan never could and never would get his claws into. 

If you ever want to understand Satan’s hatred of women and children, it takes its origin right here. He knows through whom he was defeated. A mother and her Child.

20 June 2024

An unobserved anniversary

The day was June 15 back in 2004. That was the day I began this blog. So the old thing has been around for 20 years! I almost killed it off a time or two, but I didn’t have the heart. It still provides a place for me to share my writings on this or that in a most simple way. Belated happy birthday, ye olde Blog!

A Beautiful Our Father Reflection…

…from my friend and poet, Pr. Harvey Mozolak:

Our “Our Father” prayer is a prayer spread out in eternity, a merciful map surveyed and read by the Father who in the Son is the truthful, living Way--  

Jesus’ tongue heard before it is voiced, understood in today’s need for bread and hungers even unappreciated, it is spoken by saints long dead and baptized infants too young to know words and even from the lips of those not yet conceived. 

We offer it for all of the holy catholic and apostolic Church of all time and places as the kingdom bought in forgiveness. 

Christendom’s pilgrims in their long line from Eden barred to Eden released in the resurrection is blessed from earth to heaven in the hallowing of the Lord God’s name. 

Temptation, trial and evil are routed in the procession of the Spirit’s deep, groaning power anthemed as an unending Amen in glory.

19 June 2024


…the men won both games. About time!

18 June 2024

The way a crazy mind works…

…. Truth is, I have an order that I like to do things in. I get set in my ways. Yesterday, Dave needed a hand early in the morning, and so Cindi headed over to help him. We’d started breakfast, but we just put it on hold. And so I waited and didn’t do much of anything besides making sure the steak got taken out and the pan for the eggs was turned off. I did look at the phone a little bit. Cindi made it home and we resumed right where we had left off with our normal routine. And then I didn’t really have time to do my workout or puzzles as I usually do. So I decided to skip workout for the day. I was taking a walk later when it hit me what an absolute idiot I was not to just do the workout while Cindi was gone. It never even occurred to me! I mean, that would require shuffling my routine. Good gravy! How pathetic is that? Well, at least I hope I have stored it in the old brain: “your schedule is not written in stone like the Holy Ten Commandments; you can change it to work better with your day.” I’m going to say this to myself repeatedly until it finally sinks in. 

17 June 2024

Installation of Pastor RenĂ© Castillero…

 …as associate pastor and headmaster of St. Paul’s Hamel. And Kantor outdid herself (again): timpani, trumpet, violins, violas, cello, bells, children’s choir and adult choir on Bach’s “Who Puts His Trust in God Most High” and “Thee, Lord, Would I Serve.” Oh, and there was “smells, bells, and yells” too (incense, bell at the consecration, and chanting). Liturgy was the Common Service, of course, with propers for Christian Education. 

To watch FB video, click here.

13 June 2024

We’ve had a plenty of these days lately…

…but the spell seems to have ended and the heat to have returned. Still, when we have those clear June days, I cannot but remember my mother reciting James Russell Lowell’s “And What is So Rare as a Day in June?”

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays:
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, groping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers;
The flush of life may well be seen
Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The cowslip starlets in meadows green,
The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
And there's never a leaf nor a blade too mean
To be some happy creature's palace;
The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,
And lets his illumined being o'errun
With the deluge of summer it receives;
His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings,
And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings;
He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest,--
In the nice ear of Nature which song is the best?

Now is the high-tide of the year,
And whatever of life hath ebbed away
Comes flooding back with a ripply cheer,
Into every bare inlet and creek and bay;
Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it,
We are happy now because God wills it;
No matter how barren the past may have been,
'Tis enough for us now that the leaves are green;
We sit in the warm shade and feel right well
How the sap creeps up and the blossoms swell;
We may shut our eyes but we cannot help knowing
That skies are clear and grass is growing;
The breeze comes whispering in our ear,
That dandelions are blossoming near,
That maize has sprouted, that streams are flowing,
That the river is bluer than the sky,
That the robin is plastering his house hard by;
And if the breeze kept the good news back,
For our couriers we should not lack;
We could guess it all by yon heifer's lowing,--
And hark! how clear bold chanticleer,
Warmed with the new wine of the year,
Tells all in his lusty crowing!

Joy comes, grief goes, we know not how;
Everything is happy now,
Everything is upward striving;
'Tis as easy now for the heart to be true
As for grass to be green or skies to be blue,--
'Tis for the natural way of living:

Who knows whither the clouds have fled?
In the unscarred heaven they leave no wake,
And the eyes forget the tears they have shed,
The heart forgets its sorrow and ache;
The soul partakes the season's youth,
And the sulphurous rifts of passion and woe
Lie deep 'neath a silence pure and smooth,
Like burnt-out craters healed with snow.
Photo by my brother Butch in Idaho


Well, I am a poorer man…

…but at least now the power is on for good. We just had a whole-house Generac installed. I read somewhere that it actually increases the value of the house by about 5%. I expected it to be noisier in the house when it was running, but it wasn’t bad at all. So, the next time a raccoon or squirrel decides to fry itself around here, I can STILL enjoy my coffee and heat or AC. Cindi thinks it’s about the freezer and the sump; it’s really ALL about the coffee. 

Yet Another Gem…

…from my dear friend, Kurt Reinhardt, inspired by some reading he was doing in Cardinal Bona

Our Sins and Misery Are All 

Our sins and misery are all 

That we can call our own.

For ev’ry other work or thing

Is ours by grace alone.

Our faults and failings we can claim;

From You they do not flow.

Our wretchedness is also ours;

For it You did not sow.

You are the Author in our lives

of all that’s good or grand.

All that is praiseworthy in us

Is penned by Your great hand.

Since You alone are truly good,

All good must come from You.

Since we are sinful to the core,

We sin in all we do.

Forgive and save us, Gracious Lord, 

From all that we can claim,

And fill our lives in ev’ry way

With all that bears Your name.

08 June 2024

On Tea and Coffee

I was experiencing some health issues a while ago that led me to eliminating my most beloved beverage: coffee. It was hard, but I did it. I gave up all caffeinated drinks for over six months upon my doctor’s advice. But then I decided in the winter to return to an old favorite: tea, something I also enjoy very much.

These days, mornings usually start out with several cups of my favorite: Irish Breakfast Tea. It’s strong, it’s rich, and it goes like a charm with, well, breakfast! Who’d a thunk? So I’m typically enjoying it with my steak, eggs, and bacon. By late morning, I usually want a change from that robust flavor and opt for the more delicate Darjeeling, or very occasionally, an Earl Gray. At first, I was drinking them with a splash of raw milk, but we’ve stopped going to the dairy to pick that up, so now I’m drinking them straight (though very occasionally will add a bit of cream). 

Growing up, my mom was always the tea drinker. She had numerous cups each day. Sadly, though, she used to fix it with hot tap water and stir in no less than three heaping teaspoons of sugar per cup. Her favorite was Red Rose (and I was delighted when visiting Pr. Peters and family in Canada for them to serve us up some Red Rose after supper!). In mom’s case, I think it’s more accurate to say she liked sugar than that she liked tea. I am not sure she ever tasted a plain, unsweetened cup of tea in her life. That’s a pity, since it is quite satisfying in its own right. And for some reason (even with the caffeine) I find it to be utterly calming.

After over half a year off the java, I have cautiously added back in a SINGLE cup of joe a day, and have not had any of the health issues recur. So I’m keeping it at that. Limiting the coffee, I find I look forward to it more than ever. I plop in a pat of Irish butter, put a metal mesh cone on top of my cup (same cup that the tea was in earlier), line it with an unbleached filter, and then put in two small scoops freshly ground organic coffee beans from Peru (thank you Aldi!). After the cup is full, I dump it into a metal blender and mix it well. It comes out frothy and delicious, and I pour it right back into the cup.

Now, if tea was always mom’s beverage, daddy was the coffee drinker. He usually had a couple cups to start the day - back in those days, it was a percolator that brewed the beverage and it sat on the breakfast table. He fixed it with half and half and some sugar (not as much by a long shot as mom used in her tea). He must have had a shaky hand, because I remember his saucer always had a bit of coffee in it. That’s how I learned to drink coffee. I sipped the cooled stuff he had spilled and found that I liked it. As in, a lot! I used to drink it that same way until I went to Concordia College, Bronxville, where I made the happy discover that if there were no sugar in the cup and you spilled it on your hand rushing from class to class, it wasn’t sticky! Thereafter, I came to mostly drink it black. And drank it in great excess. Before the doc ordered me off of it, I was regularly downing two to three POTS of the stuff a day, not counting stopping at every Starbucks I passed! 

So these days, I’m loving my tea (about four cups a day) and enjoying that single cup of joe, and am grateful to God for them both! 

07 June 2024

05 June 2024

Happy 42nd Anniversary to us…


Sadly, Three of my groomsmen are now dead: Maup, Bob, Joe.

Been a wild and crazy ride! But wouldn’t have it any other way. Here’s to my best buddy since Jr. High: thank you for saying “yes”!