Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Among My Civic Duties...

Pastor Zip sneaking into a polling place?
Yes, I voted.

I have yet to miss an election since I was eligible to vote. The includes one primary election years ago when I lived in Van Nuys where the only matter on the ballot was a seat on the LA Community College Board of Trustees, a non-partisan office where the candidates were actor Jack Albertson's wife (the incumbent and a leader in the very liberal California Democratic Council) and an otherwise forgotten person who was a member of California's left-wing Peace and Freedom Party. Since then I've quipped that I once voted for a communist -- because she was more conservative than the Democratic candidate. Mrs. Albertson handily won her third term without my help. But I digress...

I arrived at the Neighborhood House, where the voters of my precinct (and two others) cast their ballots, about a quarter after four in the afternoon. Walking into the voting room, I was quite pleased to see people in nearly all the voting booths and a short line ahead of me. I was voter #247. That's a pretty good turnout for these precincts, which are reliably Democratic while having a low voter turnout. That suggests it could be a good election night for Illinois Democrats -- even better than the pundits have been expecting.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

It's Leif Erickson Day

Yesterday, a Monday, was the Columbus Day holiday. The Post Office was closed. Columbus Day used to fall on October 12, recalling the day in 1492 when Christopher Columbus "discovered" the New World, but now the major holidays in the US usually fall on Mondays.

Today, October 9, is Leif Erikson Day, which commemorates the Viking pioneer who landed in North America some 500 years earlier. This photo is of the Norseman, a replica of the kind of ship he would have sailed. Here is President Trump's proclamation:
Presidential Proclamation on Leif Erikson Day, 2018

More than a millennium ago, Leif Erikson sailed across the frigid Atlantic and set foot on North America, likely becoming the first European to reach our continent. On Leif Erikson Day, we celebrate the extraordinary journey made by this son of Iceland and grandson of Norway with his crew and recognize the immeasurable contributions that generations of Nordic Americans have made to our Nation.

After converting to Christianity in Norway, "Leif the Lucky" set out to bring the Gospel to settlers in his native Greenland. During his extensive travels, he landed on the northern Atlantic coast, expanding mankind's knowledge of then uncharted territory. Centuries later, many Nordic families followed his example and set sail for America with the same determination and grit. After much struggle and sacrifice, these intrepid men and women arrived on our shores with hope for a better life.

Today, we recognize the descendants of immigrants from Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland for the tremendous role they have played in developing the indomitable spirit that defines the American people. Nordic Americans have traveled in space, crisscrossed the globe by single-engine monoplane, and advanced knowledge in science and engineering. Nordic Americans have won Oscars, Grammy Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, and Nobel Prizes. They have fought — and died — in each of our Nation’s wars.

We also reflect on the deep and enduring ties we have with the Nordic countries. They are among our greatest allies in the fight against terrorism, and they are important trading partners. We renew our commitment to continue strengthening these transatlantic relationships.

To honor Leif Erikson and celebrate our Nordic-American heritage, the Congress, by joint resolution (Public Law 88-566) approved on September 2, 1964, has authorized the President of the United States to proclaim October 9 of each year as "Leif Erikson Day."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 9, 2018, as Leif Erikson Day. I call upon all Americans to celebrate the contributions of Nordic Americans to our Nation with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-third.

For Leif the Lucky's discovery of North America, you can read this portion of The Saga of Eric the Red from 1387 (translated, of course). Or there is this more modern telling the life of Leif Erikson. While Leif himself only visited in the year AD 1000, Vikings from Iceland and Greenland soon settled in North America, as proven by the archaeological discoveries at L'anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, beginning only in the 1960s. But it seems that it was then a period of what we would currently call "global warming" (think farms in Greenland), and the outpost was abandoned as the pioneers went back to Iceland.

Oh, why October 9? According to the Leif Ericson Viking Ship organization [much of its site is currently broken, but this was their answer 11 years ago], October 9, 1825 was the arrival date of the first Norwegian immigrant ship, the Restauration, in New York.

So Columbus only re-discovered America. Which didn't stop me from visiting the replicas of the Niña and Pinta when they visited Peoria last year.

Note: This is an update of an earlier post from 2007.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Smiling at Vespers

My favorite evening hymn is "The Day You Gave Us, Lord, Has Ended" (LBW #274) partly because the fourth stanza always makes me smile:
The sun, here having set, is waking
Your children under western skies,...
You see, I grew up in Southern California, 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean. From childhood, when the Sun was setting for us, I've imagined it rising over Japan. But Japan ("The Land of the Rising Sun") is in the east, so (at least in my mind) the setting sun is waking children under eastern skies.

One evening I finally realized that the hymnwriter John Ellerton was from England, not California. And as a little boy he likely never thought he should be able to see the Sun setting behind Japan.
And hour by hour, as day is breaking,
Fresh hymns of thankful praise arise.

From a post of mine of a couple of years ago at ALPB Forum Online.

Friday, June 08, 2018

ELCA 2017 in Review

Here is the video just shown during the Central/Southern Illinois Synod Assembly, which reviews the year 2017 in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I must say, of all the videos the ELCA has presented over the years, I found this one very interesting -- on many levels.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Night Prayer Continues

And so Sunday night at Zion showed up the Community Service Officer and his wife, and three pastors who had been at the clergy-police meeting. I know others prayed, too, in their places, including some who responded to my Saturday night post's appearance on my Facebook page.

We followed the order for Compline (Prayer at the Close of the Day) as found in the Lutheran Book of Worship, during which I pondered (once again) just how appropriate the daily prayers of the Church are in our real lives. The service isn't designed to take an hour, but drawing upon my experiences with the 40 Days of Prayer, between the night collect and the Our Father I left space and time for free prayers -- spoken or silent -- by those there. Most Lutherans would, of course, be terrified by this. But the others were from black Protestant churches and, though there were moments of silence here and there, they had no problem filling the hour out with heartfelt prayer for the many concerns of those who live, work, and play on the South Side of Peoria. And for the sung parts of Compline, I did hear other voices join me for the hymns and canticles.

I also had some interesting conversations, both before and afterwards, as they wanted to learn more about what and who Lutherans are, how we are different and similar to Catholics and other Christians, and about my experience as a Lutheran pastor in a neighborhood very different from when the congregation was established 120+ years ago, or even 50 years ago.

So, what's next? I told them I'd be back again at 10 o'clock next Sunday night, they were welcome to join me, and I'll keep this up unless someone comes up with a better idea. The people of Zion had only learned of this during worship that morning; no one from the congregation showed up, but one person told me he's planning to join us this Sunday night if he's feeling well. (That's one of those issues with an aging congregation.) I also submitted an announcement to appear in the Faith Bulletin of Sunday's Journal Star.

So join (with) us in Night Prayer for the City, Sunday night from 10 to 11!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Night Prayer for the City

And so the Interim Chief of the Peoria Police Department invited the pastors of all the churches on the South Side of Peoria to meet Friday noon, in the hopes that we could work together in some way to "take a stand against violence in our community. During this meeting," he wrote, "we will provide information about how the police department believes you and your congregation can assist us." So I went, one of about two dozen church leaders, directly representing about 20 congregations (and indirectly several others), who attended. The invitation went out to 50 congregations, so that's actually not that bad a response.

This isn't the time for details of what we learned, but one little detail mentioned early in the meeting by the Community Service Officer was that the busiest hour of the week for our police is Sunday evening from 10 to 11. There was a lot more, of course, and in the ensuing discussion there several who recalled the 40 Days of Prayer 10 years ago. It did make a measurable difference in the crime statistics the two years we did it, but then some of the leaders wanted to take the effort in another direction and the broad participation of the 40 Days narrowed considerably. Some of the pastors noted the many times over the years this sort of thing as been attempted. And others lifted up efforts, usually by small groups of pastors or churches, that have been going on in the area -- sometimes for years.

Chief Marion's other hope, "to form an alliance," did not happen. And as our appointed time was running out, there was wondering how to continue the conversation started here. And that's when I finally spoke up, beginning by recalling Sunday night from 10 to 11 as the police's busiest time. And while I didn't know what else would come from this gathering, one thing I was going to do was go into Zion at 10 pm on Sunday and pray for an hour. And I invited others to join me, either at Zion or wherever they were. And if anyone wanted to discuss other matters, I'd open the place up at 9:30 for conversation and getting to know each other -- for some of us, again.

And so beginning at 10 o'clock Sunday night, I'll be praying Night Prayer (the Office of Compline as found in the Lutheran Book of Worship), with additional prayers for our city; our South Side neighborhood; those who live, work, and/or play here particularly during that hour; our police and other first responders; and anything else those who join me want to pray about. The doors will be open at 9:30, and you're welcome to join me -- in body if you're in Peoria, or in spirit wherever you are. I don't know what else will come of this, but starting in prayer seems the right thing to me.

And until a better idea happens, I think I'll keep this on the church sign and keep the hour, too.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Is This a Great Country or What?

Tuesday while standing in line at the Post Office, the clerk noticed me looking at the display card of the current commemorative stamps. "Would you like to see all the ones we have?" she asked. "Sure," I replied, and she handed me a binder with a larger selection. I was still thumbing through it when my turn came up and as I was telling the clerk I'd take sheets of Lena Horne and the Solar Eclipse, I turned to see an older commemorative I'd first bought and used over a year ago.

"Oh, and the one for the Stamp Act, too," I added. Seems to me it's the perfect stamp for a patriotic American to afix to his tax return and estimated income tax payment — two of the letters I was there to mail. So I did.