Saturday, March 17, 2018


I have now lived 59 years. I was born in 1959. Apparently that makes it my "Beddian birthday":
A Beddian Birthday occurs when the age a person is turning, is the same number as the last two digits of their birth year. The Beddian birthday is named for NYC firefighter Bobby Beddia who noted this coincidence.
So yesterday I did something suited to a man my age. Friday is my "day off," and after going out to lunch and then taking advantage of the "going out of business" sale at the Bergner's in Sheridan Village (everything is 50% off; last week it was 40%, so we're getting closer) to get some towels, I headed over to the local Ford dealer to sit in a new Mustang.

No, I'm not looking to buy one (at least right now; I'm still quite happy with my 2002 VW Golf TDI), but earlier this week I saw the announcement of the return of the Mustang GT California Special for 2019, and that set a bit of a fire in my soul.

Mustangs do that to many people of my generation. When I was 5 my cousin Claudia bought new one of the first 1964½ Mustangs. And parked outside my 11th grade math class at Canoga Park High was this totally bitchin' original 1968 California Special, in white with blue stripes that a senior drove to school. That California Special had been truly unique to California, but I took notice when at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show Ford had a couple of new GT/California Specials on display. These newer ones aren't quite as different in appearance from a regular Mustang GT as the '68s were and, when it makes them available (2018 is one year the newer GT/CS hasn't been produced), Ford sells them across the nation.

So as I was pulling into the parking area of the Ford dealer's lot to sit in a new Mustang, a young salesman came out to greet me. But I was to be disappointed, for on the lot (he quickly told me) the only Mustang they have was that 2004 Mustang Cobra sitting a few feet away. That's right -- the Peoria Ford dealer has no new Mustangs. None! Nor any used Mustangs new enough to represent the "retro-future" Mustangs designed by J Mays that first came out in 2005.

Oh, well; I'm not looking to buy a new car.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Freedom's Just Another Word

"Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose," Janis sang in Kris Kristofferson's Me and Bobby McGee. That's what immediately came to my mind when Twitter (yes, Pastor Zip has a Twitter account, but only because NetworkedBlogs, which for free automatically forwards my blog posts to my Facebook page, does -- or at least did -- the same with Twitter; so every couple of days there's an e-mail from Twitter) wanted me see CNN's tweet, "Florida student Emma Gonzalez to lawmakers and gun advocates: 'We call BS'."

The thing is, what may fit the context of a song from the end of the '60s is not a civic reality. Freedom actually means you have everything to gain. And freedom means, conversely, you also have everything to lose. Miss Gonzalez tells of what she has been learning in her AP Government class. Well, thousands of years ago (as my 8th grade social studies teacher Ms. Greenman used to say) in my (11th grade) AP American History class I learned that our Founding Fathers, after winning their rebellion against the British Crown and the King's Parliament, intentionally devised a national government that would have limited ability to infringe upon rights that they regarded as "unalienable." Which helped us to understand the Bill of Rights, which we first learned about in plain old 4th grade Civics.

Other news reports today, which happens to be the national holiday usually called "Presidents' Day" -- though legally it's the observance of George Washington's Birthday -- have noted protests by young students across the nation, demanding that the President and the Congress "do something" in the light of the latest school shooting. And if I'm reading Miss Gonzalez' address rightly, she's saying something that many advocates of "gun control" have been saying for years -- that the Second Amendment, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed," is outdated and ought to be set aside. And set aside now. If necessary, without the bother of actually amending the Constitution. In other words, to grant those two branches of the federal government powers that our governing authority says they do not have.

"Freedom's just another word for something more to lose..."

Monday, January 29, 2018

Another Awards Show

Last night while flipping TV channels for a few moments I discovered that the Grammys were being aired. As I watched the song being performed at that moment I realized that, given the current popular music scene, there probably wouldn't be too much that I like listening to. It's not so much the music, though reading the list of nominees and winneers artists this morning I recognized almost none of the artists from the station I listen to most -- the Triple A (Adult album alternative) WWCT -- but the, uh, social commentary that is de rigueur with such televised spectacles. So I turned the TV off...

As into my mind popped another awards show from the distant past, in this case the Emmys. From its beginnings television programming has (often deservedly) suffered much from the tongues and pens of critics. Radio's Fred Allen observed in 1950 that "television is called a medium because it is rare that it is well done." (Google tells me Ernie Kovacs, the early TV genius who was taken from us much too soon, said much the same thing.) And while the Emmys can often take television more seriously than it deserves, there's this wickedly funny presention from the 1959 Emmy Awards by the comedians Mike Nichols and Elaine May.
There will be a lot said here tonight about excellence. And the creative, the artistic, and the skillful will all be recognized and rewarded.

But what of the others in this industry? Seriously, there are men in the industry who go on, year in and year out, quietly and unassumingly producing garbage.

I'm very, very proud to have been chosen by the Academy to present tonight's Special Award to the man who has been voted the Most Total Mediocity in the industry...
Oh, go ahead and watch it all. It may fit last night's Grammys more than I imagined.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving Day 2017

Tomorrow evening at seven o'clock, some of Christ's saints will gather at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Peoria to celebrate our national day of Thanksgiving with The Great Thanksgiving, Holy Communion. This has been a practice at Zion, to gather for worship on the eve of Thanksgiving Day, since long before I was called as Zion's pastor. You are invited to be part of the gathering -- at Zion, or at a church near to you.

Part of my practice for that day over the last couple of decades (since the internet made it easy to obtain) has been to read the Proclamation of this holiday by the President of the United States. For while it is always appropriate to give thanks to God in worship, we do so on this particular day at his behest. I've read that year's Proclamation regardless of my own thoughts of that President's conduct of the Office. Several times over those years, when I think about it, I post the Proclamation on this blog. You can read those (including the first proclamation made by the Continental Congress in 1777) at this link. President Trump's first Thanksgiving Day Proclamation is here:

- - - - - - -

On Thanksgiving Day, as we have for nearly four centuries, Americans give thanks to Almighty God for our abundant blessings. We gather with the people we love to show gratitude for our freedom, for our friends and families, and for the prosperous Nation we call home.

In July 1620, more than 100 Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower, fleeing religious persecution and seeking freedom and opportunity in a new and unfamiliar place. These dauntless souls arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in the freezing cold of December 1620. They were greeted by sickness and severe weather, and quickly lost 46 of their fellow travelers. Those who endured the incredible hardship of their first year in America, however, had many reasons for gratitude. They had survived. They were free. And, with the help of the Wampanoag tribe, and a bountiful harvest, they were regaining their health and strength. In thanks to God for these blessings, the new governor of the Plymouth Colony, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and gathered with the Wampanoag tribe for three days of celebration.

For the next two centuries, many individual colonies and states, primarily in the Northeast, carried on the tradition of fall Thanksgiving festivities. But each state celebrated it on a different day, and sometime on an occasional basis. It was not until 1863 that the holiday was celebrated on one day, nationwide. In the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg, of one of the bloodiest battles of our Nation's Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that the country would set aside one day to remember its many blessings. "In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity," President Lincoln proclaimed, we recall the "bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come." As President Lincoln recognized: "No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy."

Today, we continue to celebrate Thanksgiving with a grateful and charitable spirit. When we open our hearts and extend our hands to those in need, we show humility for the bountiful gifts we have received. In the aftermath of a succession of tragedies that have stunned and shocked our Nation -- Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria; the wildfires that ravaged the West; and, the horrific acts of violence and terror in Las Vegas, New York City, and Sutherland Springs -- we have witnessed the generous nature of the American people. In the midst of heartache and turmoil, we are grateful for the swift action of the first responders, law enforcement personnel, military and medical professionals, volunteers, and everyday heroes who embodied our infinite capacity to extend compassion and humanity to our fellow man. As we mourn these painful events, we are ever confident that the perseverance and optimism of the American people will prevail.

We can see, in the courageous Pilgrims who stood on Plymouth Rock in new land, the intrepidness that lies at the core of our American spirit. Just as the Pilgrims did, today Americans stand strong, willing to fight for their families and their futures, to uphold our values, and to confront any challenge.

This Thanksgiving, in addition to rejoicing in precious time spent with loved ones, let us find ways to serve and encourage each other in both word and deed. We also offer a special word of thanks for the brave men and women of our Armed Forces, many of whom must celebrate this holiday separated from the ones for whom they are most thankful. As one people, we seek God's protection, guidance, and wisdom, as we stand humbled by the abundance of our great Nation and the blessings of freedom, family, and faith.

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 Thursday, November 23, 2017, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather, in homes and places of worship, to offer a prayer of thanks to God for our many blessings.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.


Friday, November 17, 2017

And In Today's News...

"We are to fear and love God so that in matters of sex our words and conduct are pure and honorable, and husband and wife love and respect each other."

As a youth I learned this as the answer to the question, "What does this mean: 'You shall not commit adultery.'" Lutherans will recognize it a being from The Small Catechism by Dr. Martin Luther, which in my Sunday School text books was subtitled, "A Handbook of Basic Christian Instruction for the Family and the Congregation."

But there's hardly anything unique here to Luther, or even Christians for that matter. Alas, you'd not know that from catching the news media. Or, for that matter, the entertainment media. All of which have been busy, for a long time now, with another message.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Today's Amusement

The return address on the billing for my recent blood tests is Billings, MT.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

25 Years!

It was 25 years ago today that I received (to borrow phrasing from Dr. Luther) "the power and authority to administer the meal, publically before the altar, from the other pastors with prayer and the laying on of hands." Here you can see the conclusion of that reception:

I wrote more about that day in a post 10 years ago:
O Lord God, dear Father in heaven, I am indeed unworthy of the office and ministry in which I am to make known thy glory and to nurture and to serve this congregation.

But since thou hast appointed me to be a pastor and teacher, and the people are in need of the teaching and the instruction, O be thou my helper and let thy holy angels attend me.

Then if thou art pleased to accomplish anything through me, to thy glory and not to mine or to the praise of men, grant me, out of thy pure grace and mercy, a right understanding of thy Word and that I may also diligently perform it.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, thou shepherd and bishop of our souls, send thy Holy Spirit that he may work with me, yea, that he may work in me to will and to do through thy divine strength according to thy good pleasure. Amen!
That is Luther's Sacristy Prayer, and I pray it every Sunday as I vest for the Divine Service. I'll sometimes think then that it would be good to post it here and it is particularly fitting to do so today (thank you, Pastor Weedon, for the idea), for it was 15 years ago today that the Rev. J. Roger Anderson, Bishop of the Southern California (West) Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America addressed me as we stood in the Chancel of the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Canoga Park, California, about 15 feet from where I had been baptized 33 years (less one week) earlier:
According to apostolic usage you are now to be set apart to the office of Word and Sacrament in the one holy catholic Church by the laying on of hands and by prayer.
Bishop Anderson was joined in the addresses that followed by the pastor loci and my pastor, the Rev. C. David Olson (of blessed memory, who preached that afternoon), the Rev. Brian Eklund (pastor then and now at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, Los Angeles, who had supervised my seminary "Cross Cultural Experience"), and the Rev. Jeffrey Frohner (a friend and seminary classmate who had just begun serving his first call at Trinity Lutheran Church, Santa Barbara). With them standing around me, the Bishop then examined me:
Before almighty God, to whom you must give account, and in the presence of this congregation, I ask: Will you assume this office, believing that the Church's call is God's call to the ministry of Word and Sacrament?

I will, and I ask God to help me.

The Church in which you are to be ordained confeses that the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God and are the norm of its faith and life. We accept, teach, and confess the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian Creeds. We also acknowledge the Lutheran Confessions as true witnesses and faithful expositions of the Holy Scriptures. Will you therefore preach and teach in accordance with the Holy Scriptures and these creeds and confessions?

I will, and I ask God to help me.

Will you be diligent in your study of the Holy Scriptures and in your use of the means of grace? Will you pray for God's people, nourish them with the Word and Holy Sacraments, and lead them by your own example in faithful service and holy living?

I will, and I ask God to help me.

Will you give faithful witness in the world, that God's love may be know by all that you do?

I will, and I ask God to help me.

Almighty God, who has given you the will to do these things, graciously give you the strength and compassion to perform them.

After the Prayer of the Church and Come, Holy Ghost, they (though Brian and Jeff aren't really visible from this angle) were joined in the laying on of hands by the Rev. John Stump (Pastor Olson's predecessor and my pastor at Resurrection during most of my college years) and the 2 nearest neighboring ELCA pastors, the Rev. John Lundeen (then of St. Luke Lutheran Church, Woodland Hills, and one of the Augustana Synod's Lundeen clan) and the Rev. Bryan Woken (then and now at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Canoga Park (West Hills). And thus they committed the Office of the Holy Ministry to me. Every time I attend an ordination, or simply take a few moments during devotions to review those promises -- many of us who have been in the Society of the Holy Trinity for a longer time have a card with them imprinted on the obverse of a holy card of Rublev's icon of the Old Testament Trinity -- I am struck once again by what I have been called to. How awesome! And how inadequate I am to bear that office.

Being reminded of that is a good thing. There is another similar Sacristy Prayer of Luther's that I don't use, but it always makes me smile, then ponder:
Lord God, thou hast appointed me a bishop and pastor in thy church. Thou seest how unfit I am to undertake this great and difficult office, and were it not for thy help, I would long since have ruined it all. Therefore I cry unto thee; I will assuredly apply my mouth and my heart to thy service. I desire to teach the people and I myself would learn ever more and diligently meditate thy Word. Use thou me as thine instrument, only do not forsake me, for if I am left alone I shall easily bring it all to destruction. Amen.
What an exciting day it was 15 years ago. And despite all I've done since, somehow it's not yet been destroyed. What a gracious Lord God we have!