Saturday, September 30, 2006

Mr. Angel

He is, by any account, Mr. Angel.

Tim Salmon has been to this franchise what Tony Gwynn was to the Padres, what Cal Ripken Jr. was to the Orioles, what Kirby Puckett was to the Twins.

He has been the homegrown star who started and stayed right here, loyally remaining with one team and one franchise for the duration of his career.

A case could be made for him as the most consistent player in the 45-year history of the organization. But what has made him so endearing, so wildly popular that fans are standing and cheering for him every night on this final homestand before he retires, isn't so much the long list of impressive numbers he has put up.

It is more about Salmon, the person. It is more about the way he has conducted himself, on and off the field. For 15 years in Orange County, Salmon has pounded the ball and pounded the pavement, always there to help with all sorts of causes and charities.
Read here for the rest of this article by Steve Bisheff of the Orange County Register.

It was August 1992. Having graduated from seminary, accepted this call as Parish Pastor at Zion, and making the final arrangements for my upcoming ordination, I was temporarily living with Mom & Dad in the West Hills/Canoga Park home I'd been raised in. That meant I could again listen to the games of the baseball team that had been my favorite since I was a little boy, the California Angels -- originally, and now again, the Los Angeles Angels. I didn't catch the game the night Tim Salmon made his debut -- that was the night of my sem roommate's wedding rehearsal dinner -- but I would catch others over the next 3 weeks until I was on the road to Peoria. Like other Angels fans -- there weren't a whole lot of us in those days -- I had big hopes for this new right fielder, and I was able to follow his Rookie-of-the-Year 1993 season as well as the Peoria Journal Star would report it.

Tim Salmon's legacy as an Angel includes memorable moments both on and off the field. The biggest on-field was the Anaheim Angels winning the 2002 World Series (which I watched on TV while chatting with my Mom and sister at the end of the day Zion celebrated my 10th Anniversary of ordination and as their pastor). Some of his off the field legacy is listed here in his offical baseball biography. The one I find most interesting is California's Responsible Fatherhood Campaign. Not mentioned there is part of his testimony to the Christian Faith.

Last Wednesday night came the 299th Home Run of his 15-year career, all with the Angels. Thursday he announced his retirement. I'll catch tonight's game on XM Radio, rooting for him to hit #300 tonight. The Angels' season, and Salmon's playing career, end tomorrow afternoon, while I'll be part of the Peoria Life Chain.

The Angels

The day that has just past was the festival of St. Michael and All Angels (aka Michaelmas). We celebrated the festival a day early at the closing Eucharist for the STS General Retreat, where Pr. Pari Bailey, STS, preached about the place angels in our culture and in the Christian Faith. I will soon post a copy of that sermon on the STS website, but until then I suggest that you check out The Confessing Reader where you will find -- as you will for nearly every Christian festival that included in the Calendar of the Book of Common Prayer -- a good and faithful description of angels in the Holy Scriptures and Christian tradition.

As the depiction here (taken shamelessly from The Confessing Reader's blog entry) of St. Michael suggests, the angels of God are not the harmless, cute beings in the "angels" section of gift shops, on greeting cards, or in popular American culture. I daresay that images of angels you might find in your local "Christian" bookstore or in a church's children's pageant won't be in line with this photo, either. But ponder upon the first words so often spoken by an angel in the Bible: "Do not be afraid."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Swedish Confession Service

In his introduction to The Hammer of God last evening at the General Retreat of the Society of the Holy Trinity, Pastor Ronald Bagnall, STS, described the beginning of the pre-1942 Swedish Mass, which was partially quoted in the book. Here it is, using the texts as translated into English for The Hymnal and Order of Service of 1925 as authorized by the Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod:

The priest enters singing:
Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts! The whole earth is full of His glory.

Then he says:
The Lord is in His holy temple; His throne is in heaven. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of an humble and contrite spirit. He heareth the supplications of the penitent and inclineth to their prayers. Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto His throne of grace and confess our sins:

The priest and congregation together say:
Holy and Righteous God, merciful Father, we confess unto Thee that we are by nature sinful and unclean, and that we have sinned against Thee by thought, word, and deed. We have not loved Thee above all things, nor our neighbor as ourselves, and are worthy, therefore, to be cast away from Thy presence, if Thou shouldst judge us according to our sins. But Thou hast promised, O heavenly Father, to receive with tender mercy all penitent sinners who turn unto Thee and with a living faith seek refuge in Thy Fatherly compassion and in the merits of the Saviour, Jesus Christ. Their transgressions Thou wilt not regard, nor impute unto them their sins. Relying upon Thy promise, we confidently beseech Thee to be merciful and gracious unto us and to forgive us all our sins, to the praise and glory of Thy Holy Name.

May the Almighty, Eternal God, in His infinite mercy and for the sake of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, forgive all our sins, and give us grace to amend our lives, and with Him obtain eternal life. Amen.

Then the Kyrie and Gloria in Excelsis are sung...

On Communion Sundays, in place of the "May the Almighty, Eternal God..." sentence above, the following Absolution was pronounced by the priest;

If this be your sincere confession, and if with penitent hearts you earnestly desire the forgiveness of your sins for the sake of Jesus Christ, God, according to His promise, forgiveth you all your sins; and by the authority of God's Word and by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, I declare unto you that God, through His grace, hath forgiven all your sins; in the Name of God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Then the Gloria in Excelsis is sung...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How often should one go to the Lord's Supper?

Among the readings for discussion at the 2007 General Retreat of the Society of the Holy Trinity is the book The Hammer of God, by Bo Geirtz. A wonderful book that I wish I'd known about prior to my pastoral care courses in seminary, what struck me on my first reading a few years ago was how contemporary were the issues Giertz was addressing.

The first section of the book focusses on a young enlightenment-era priest who in 1808 gets caught up in the Pietist renewal. In one episode, the young Fr. Savonius is, with the the more veteran Pietist priest Fr. Lindér, speaking with a group of people following a evening gathering. The laity are taking advantage of an opportunity to question their priests. From page 66 of the Revised Edition of the book:

Then a new voice was heard.

"How often should one go to the Lord's Supper?"

It was again Lindér who answered.

"That depends a little on how you ask the question. If you ask how often you must go, it may indicate a stubborn heart that wants to buy God's grace as cheaply as possible and that does not really want to be with Jesus. If that is the case, you must pray God to convert you. If, on the other hand, you ask how often you ought to go, our Lord's answer is, 'As oft as ye do this,' and that means that you must do it oftener than the great majority, who commune four times a year just for the sake of propriety. And if you ask how often you may go, you are showing the right hunger for grace, and my answer then is: Go in the joy of the Lord as often as you can. But do not be careless about the preparation."