Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year!!

A blessed and prosperous 2015 to you all.

This seems better than Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga -- Guy Lombardo, for the New Year of 1977.

Then you can go back to last New Year's Day and watch "Auld Lang Syne" with Guy Lombardo from 1958.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Day after Thanksgiving

Working in the Cashier's Cage at Sears Northridge beginning in 1997, the day after Thanksgiving was much like any other day -- except the store and the mall were much more crowed.

The day after the day after Thanksgiving was a whole 'nother thing. Our chief task in the cage was to count the store's cash receipts from the day before. In those days, most people used cash or checks. Normally we'd finish the counting around lunch time; busy days it would be the mid-afternoon. Saturday's receipts, usually the bigest sales day of the week, took the entire Sunday shift -- 11 to 5 in those days. The day after Thanksgiving, however, was the biggest sales day of the year, and the Saturday after Thanksgiving, even with the full staff, we were lucky to get everything counted before the store closed that evening. Forget any of the paperwork. Yes, the rest of the days until Christmas would all be long days, but the day after the Day after Thanksgiving was always the longest.

Only one Black Friday offers eternal savings. [image of Golgotha]
I did that each year from 1977-1984. And through the end of 1987 I was in that same Sears store, though by then in the Sears Savings Bank branch inside it. Eleven Days after Thanksgiving I worked in retail, the biggest sales day of the year. It was called "the day after Thanksgiving." Never "Black Friday."

Until I had been a Pastor here in Peoria for a few years, "Black Friday" had only one meaning. It was an alternate name for Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. "Black" because historically that was the color you would find in Anglican, Lutheran, and other churches on this Friday the banks, stock exchange, and many other enterprises closed early at Noon so people could go to church. Black Friday would never fall in November, because it is the Friday before Easter, in April or late March. Black Friday would be the day of the fewest, not the most, cash receipts.

Today is the Day after Thanksgiving.

And unless I absolutely must purchase something today, you won't find me in a department store or at the mall. They're way too crowded for me. You won't find me there next Black Friday -- Good Friday, that is, April 3, 2015 -- either. Of course, that will have nothing to do with crowded stores, and everything to do with eternal savings.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The President Invites You to Church

I've been waiting for it all day, and now it's here: the Presidential Proclamation for Thanksgiving Day 2014. Actually, given its history, I'm a bit surprised I had to wait until this afternoon before it was finally available. But here it is, the President's invitation for you to worship at Zion -- or another nearby church -- for Thanksgiving Day.

And thus, the Chapel at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Peoria will be open today, the eve of Thanksgiving Day (November 26, 2014) for prayer and Holy Communion beginning at 7 o'clock. You are welcome to join us -- we're at the corner of Easton and Hayes, one block west of the intersection of Jefferson and Western, on the South Side of Peoria. Fellowship and refreshments follow!


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Thanksgiving Day invites us to reflect on the blessings we enjoy and the freedoms we cherish. As we gather with family and friends to take part in this uniquely American celebration, we give thanks for the extraordinary opportunities we have in a Nation of limitless possibilities, and we pay tribute to all those who defend our Union as members of our Armed Forces. This holiday reminds us to show compassion and concern for people we have never met and deep gratitude toward those who have sacrificed to help build the most prosperous Nation on earth. These traditions honor the rich history of our country and hold us together as one American family, no matter who we are or where we come from.

Nearly 400 years ago, a group of Pilgrims left their homeland and sailed across an ocean in pursuit of liberty and prosperity. With the friendship and kindness of the Wampanoag people, they learned to harvest the rich bounty of a new world.

Together, they shared a successful crop, celebrating bonds of community during a time of great hardship. Through times of war and of peace, the example of a Native tribe who extended a hand to a new people has endured. During the American Revolution and the Civil War, days of thanksgiving drew Americans together in prayer and in the spirit that guides us to better days, and in each year since, our Nation has paused to show our gratitude for our families, communities, and country.

With God's grace, this holiday season we carry forward the legacy of our forebears. In the company of our loved ones, we give thanks for the people we care about and the joy we share, and we remember those who are less fortunate. At shelters and soup kitchens, Americans give meaning to the simple truth that binds us together: we are our brother's and our sister's keepers. We remember how a determined people set out for a better world -- how through faith and the charity of others, they forged a new life built on freedom and opportunity.

The spirit of Thanksgiving is universal. It is found in small moments between strangers, reunions shared with friends and loved ones, and in quiet prayers for others. Within the heart of America's promise burns the inextinguishable belief that together we can advance our common prosperity -- that we can build a more hopeful, more just, and more unified Nation. This Thanksgiving, let us recall the values that unite our diverse country, and let us resolve to strengthen these lasting ties.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, 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 Thursday, November 27, 2014, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage the people of the United States to join together -- whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors -- and give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Mike Nichols: RIP

Mike Nichols died a couple of days ago. I was probably 8-years-old the first time I heard the following. I've been a fan ever since.

Here he is accepting an Emmy Award in the year I was born. He definitely did not deserve this.

Television hasn't changed all that much, has it...

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Another General Election

I arrived at my precinct's polling place just after 3:30 in the afternoon. I was the 66th voter to show up, with one person ahead of me and three or four more showing up while I was in the voting booth. Not a lot of folks usually vote around here, even in a general election.

Four years ago, the last mid-term election, there were a total of 166 votes cast in the entire precinct. Two years ago (a Presidential election year), arriving a wee bit later in the afternoon, I was #200 of 346. It would be interesting to learn how many registered voters there are in this precinct.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Reading and Pondering the Declaration

Next to "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness," my favorite line in the Declaration of Independence, written 238 years ago, is,
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
I don't really wonder what Thomas Jefferson and the Fathers would think of the Executive Branch of today's United States government. What I do wonder is how we Americans can be so proud of this document and then sit back as Presidents and Congresses of both parties erect more offices...

Reposted from this blog last year, 3 years ago and 5 years ago, and 7 years ago on my other blog. Image of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence from


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Friday, May 30, 2014

"You are witnesses of these things..."

From the ALPB Forum Online thread "A Blessed Ascension Day":

Last evening was the 15th consecutive year the Ascension of Our Lord was observed at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Peoria on the Feast Day.

Our typical practice as been what Frank Senn describes as Cathedral Vespers and the Eucharist, using Evening Prayer and Holy Communion Setting III of LBW. He reports this as a better alternative to using parts of Vespers to replace the entrance rite for Holy Communion by letting each liturgy stand on its own, rather than asking it to do something else.

Vespers includes the Lucinarium (at 7pm) with procession, during which all worshipers are invited to light their own candles, Pslam 141, and the Litany. At its "Amen", the organist offers a Prelude (giving me time to change from choir dress into Eucharistic vestments when I'm the celebrant). The eucharistic procession is to the Gloria in excelsis, omitting only the Psalmody and the Prayer of the Church while following the rest of Setting III.

We, too, are not air-conditioned, so while I had been able to get the church down to 75 F in the morning -- think "brick oven" in these longer, warmer, sunny days -- it was 82 in the late afternoon when I noticed the organist perspiring as she practiced the liturgy, so I turned the ceiling and exhaust fans up and brought in a couple more to get the air moving. It's not too bad, but the acolytes aren't used to the air moving quite that much!

We specifically invited not only our sister Conference congregations (which we've always done), but all ELCA full communion partner congregations within the greater Peoria area -- that adds up to over 60 congregations --, got the word out to at least some in the Via de Cristo community (noting particularly that the preacher, the Synod's Director for Evangelical Mission, had been a spiritual director for last month's Three Days), and even got a notice in Sunday's Journal Star. Still, it's a Thursday evening at the end of May, on the South Side of Peoria, conflicting with some graduations and the community theatre.

23 in attendance (on the lower side for Ascension and a guest preacher) from 8-9 different congregations. (Some of our "regulars" had other commitments.) The Gospel was proclaimed, the Sacrament was administered, the world was raised in prayer. And, as is typical at Zion, it's a good hour or more after the Dismissal before we can put away the remaining cookies, clean up the coffee and juice, and I can finally lock the doors and retire for the evening.

Come, Holy Spirit...