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!


- - - - - - -



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, 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...

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

King's College Choir Announces Major Change

Choral music will never be the same...


Tip of the biretta to Father Carl-Johan.

Not the Best Beginning

Oh, my! This is an inauspicious way to begin the new season. Los Angeles Angels hitting coach Don Baylor, behind the plate to catch the ceremonial first pitch, breaks his leg. You may not want to watch the video, but it's hard to imagine the 1979 American League Most Valuable Player being that fragile, even at age 64.

(Ah, the Orange County Register reports, "In 2003, Baylor was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a bone marrow cancer that weakens the bones. He reportedly went into remission the next year.")

Then the 3-2 score over Seattle when I finally get to listen via XM Radio beginning in the 6th inning ends up a 10-3 blowout for the Mariners....

Monday, March 24, 2014

Which Do I Choose?

So the survey asks:
What best describes your occupation?

  • Arts / Literary / Culinary

  • Business Owner / Self-Employed

  • Education Administration / Support Services

  • Educator (Professor, Teacher, Coach, etc.)

  • Entertainment / Sports / Media

  • Farming / Ranching

  • Military / Law Enforcement / Fire Services / Emergency Services

  • Lawyer / Attorney

  • White Collar (includes executive management, middle management, and individual contributors)

  • Professional / Technical

  • Construction / Tradesman / Skilled Laborer (Painter, Mechanic, Plumber, etc.)

  • Hourly Wage Worker (Waiter, Barista, Stocker, Bellhop, etc.)

  • Professional Driver / Delivery Driver

  • Physician / Doctor (MD, DO, FMG, DC, DDS, DVM, etc.)

  • Healthcare Professional (Not Physician / Doctor)

  • None of the Above

  • I do believe the best response for a Christian minister is "Professional."

    But "White Collar" is mighty tempting.

    Photo: Pastor Zip at Zion's celebration of his 55th birthday.

    Tuesday, March 18, 2014

    Another Election Day

    Today is Primary Election Day in Illinois. I voted just before three o'clock this afternoon, which seems to be my usual time of day. There were five people in the comunity room at Neighborhood House when I walked in, and another person followed me in. The six were all election judges.

    This year there is a new form for the voter to sign, and there is a space on it for the one giving the voter his electornic voting code to indicate which voter, in numerical order, this is. So I didn't need to ask, as has been my custom, how many had showed up so far. I was No. 8.

    "It's picked up since lunch time," replied one of the judges responded to my comment on it being a slow day. Turns out between the opening of the polls at 6:00 am and Noon two voters had showed up. And one of them was one of the judges.

    Well, it's a primary election, the chief offices up for election are Governor and U.S. Senator where any apparent competition for the party nominations (for some, but not all, offices) is on the Republican side, and this precinct is usually quite Democratic when people bother to vote in the general election. Nevertheless, with less than one voter per hour, the contrasts between today's election and the recent one in North Korea are not entirely complimentary to us.

    I thanked the judges for their service.

    Monday, March 17, 2014

    It's a Great Day for a Birthday!

    Grandpa Hutchinson would tell of his grandmother who, when acknowledging that she was indeed born in Dublin, would then conclude in her Scottish accent, "But if there's a drop of Irish blood in me, I'll squeeze it oot!"

    These are the stockings I wanted to wear today, but I can find only one of them.

    Tuesday, March 11, 2014

    Weights and Measures

    I still use Mom's recipe (typed, on a 3x5 card) for Tuna Noodle Casserole. It calls for "2 cans (7 oz. each) tuna, well drained."

    But when she first gave me this recipe, a can of tuna did not hold 7 oz. My recollection is that it was 6¾ oz. That was about 30 years ago.

    A can of tuna has shrunk progressively (Is that right?) in the year since. About a year or so ago I first noticed it was now down to 5 oz. That's so they can still sell it at the grocery store for, when my brand is on sale (Sorry, Charlie, I listen to the mermaid.) , 99¢.

    So now I use 3 cans.

    It also calls for "1½ c. dairy sour cream (12 oz.)." Alas, a container of sour cream, for which apart from this casserole I have no need for, is 16 oz.
    You shall not have in your bag two kinds of weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small. A full and just weight you shall have, a full and just measure you shall have; that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. For all who do such things, all who act dishonestly, are an abomination to the LORD your God.

    - Deuteronomy 25:13-16 RSV

    Thursday, March 06, 2014

    Geoff Edwards: Thanks for the Good Times

    Geoff Edwards, the mid-morning DJ on KMPC Los Angeles from 1968-1979, has died.

    Apparently I'm at the age where I'm going to hear this more-and-more of those people who I never met or knew but were, nonetheless, part of my every-day life growing up. While the national news is focussing on his game show hosting, the LA Times's obituary hit exactly what popped into my mind when I heard the news this morning on the radio:
    On radio, he was a clever talker who sprinkled music and news with homegrown bits like "The Answer Lady." That was simply Edwards answering listeners' questions, often comically, without even pretending to imitate a female voice.
    Listeners called 520-8600 (Can you believe I remember the KMPC phone number?), Geoff'd say in his normal voice "Answer Lady," a question was asked (it could be about anything), he toss off a quick one-line answer and immediately push the next button on the phone, saying, "Answer Lady," and doing this bit quick-boom-boom for 3-5 minutes. Alas, you don't hear this kind of radio any more.

    Edwards probably received more noteriety for his game show hosting and he was, for many years, the announcer for the California Lottery's The Big Spin. Perhaps the biggest moments of his career was when he was reporting on the events following President Kennedy's assassination in Dallas for KHJ/Mutual, including being at the scene when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald. A good retrospective of his career, including how he came to be in Dallas that day, appears right now on the front page of Don Barrett's, the place to remember over 6000 "LA Radio People".

    While I remember him best from KMPC, it turns out Geoff was the morning man at KFI just prior to Lohman and Barkley -- which means I would have listened to him every morning when I first got my own radio for my bedroom. While they were indeed brilliant, Lohman and Barkley didn't do a whole lot for me when I was 9-10 years old, and I switched to KMPC. Of course, with a 9-Noon shift, I only got to hear him in the summertime.

    You can listen to an air check of the 11 o'clock hour Geoff Edwards on KMPC from November 13, 1978. The first half,
    and the second half,
    No "Answer Lady" here -- she usually happened during the 10 o'clock hour -- but it's a good taste of the old full service AM radio that, alas, no longer exists. FWIW, it does run a wee bit slow, but that's noticeable mainly if you remember what he sounded like on the air.

    Oh, cool!! One of Geoff's most famous radio bits, Mr. Kent calling the dry cleaners to see if his stuff (dropped off earlier by Miss Lane) is ready, appears on his web site.

    Besides the Times' obit, there's this from the Hollywood Reporter (hey, local sources are best) and his Facebook page, which has some wonderful photos. I think he enjoyed a good life. I'm glad he was a part of mine. Requiescat in pace.

    Wednesday, January 01, 2014

    Happy New Year!

    Bringing in the new year, 2014. It still seems best with Guy Lombardo and the Royal Candians playing "Auld Lang Syne," though here you get more than the 10 seconds the band got on NBC at the top of the hour a few moments ago.

    Meanwhile, here on the South Side of Peoria, the firecrackers are going off outside, and inside I'm watching an episode of The Jack Benny Program, with guest Andy Williams, from 1964. And Madge Blake (you do know which TV show she is best known for appearing on, don't you?) as a member of the Jack Benny Fan Club! Imagine the big joke on a black-and-white program being the guests' blue eyes.

    Blessings and joy to you in the new year!