Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanks Be to God!

"The minister may announce the day and its significance before the Entrance Hymn, before the lessons, or at another appropriate time." Thus reads one of the rubrics (or directions) at the beginning of the Holy Communion according to Lutheran Book of Worship, and so it is my custom to do this just about every service as it begins. Usually it is rather brief: "Welcome to God's House this 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, today we hear Jesus..."

On the Eve of Thanksgiving Day, when Zion has offered Holy Communion that Wednesday evening since long before I was called as Parish Pastor, this announcement takes a few moments, for it is not a holiday specifically designated by the church. Rather, it is a day designated by a proclamation of the President of the United States. And so, since the late 1990s when such things became easily available through the Internet, I have read what the President has had to say about the day and its significance. I have posted some of them on Pastor Zip's Blog in the past. Here is what I read last evening.

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Rooted in a story of generosity and partnership, Thanksgiving offers an opportunity for us to express our gratitude for the gifts we have and to show our appreciation for all we hold dear. Today, as we give of ourselves in service to others and spend cherished time with family and friends, we give thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon us. We also honor the men and women in uniform who fight to safeguard our country and our freedoms so we can share occasions like this with loved ones, and we thank our selfless military families who stand beside and support them each and every day.

Our modern celebration of Thanksgiving can be traced back to the early 17th century. Upon arriving in Plymouth, at the culmination of months of testing travel that resulted in death and disease, the Pilgrims continued to face great challenges. An indigenous people, the Wampanoag, helped them adjust to their new home, teaching them critical survival techniques and important crop cultivation methods. After securing a bountiful harvest, the settlers and Wampanoag joined in fellowship for a shared dinner to celebrate powerful traditions that are still observed at Thanksgiving today: lifting one another up, enjoying time with those around us, and appreciating all that we have.

Carrying us through trial and triumph, this sense of decency and compassion has defined our Nation. President George Washington proclaimed the first Thanksgiving in our country's nascence, calling on the citizens of our fledgling democracy to place their faith in "the providence of Almighty God," and to be thankful for what is bequeathed to us. In the midst of bitter division at a critical juncture for America, President Abraham Lincoln acknowledged the plight of the most vulnerable, declaring a "day of thanksgiving," on which all citizens would "commend to [God's] tender care" those most affected by the violence of the time -- widows, orphans, mourners, and sufferers of the Civil War. A tradition of giving continues to inspire this holiday, and at shelters and food centers, on battlefields and city streets, and through generous donations and silent prayers, the inherent selflessness and common goodness of the American people endures.

In the same spirit of togetherness and thanksgiving that inspired the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag, we pay tribute to people of every background and belief who contribute in their own unique ways to our country's story. Each of us brings our own traditions, cultures, and recipes to this quintessential American holiday -- whether around dinner tables, in soup kitchens, or at home cheering on our favorite sports teams -- but we are all united in appreciation of the bounty of our Nation. Let us express our gratitude by welcoming others to our celebrations and recognize those who volunteer today to ensure a dinner is possible for those who might have gone without. Together, we can secure our founding ideals as the birthright of all future generations of Americans.

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 November 26, 2015, 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 twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Hey, It's a "Web Log."

I thought it was a bit chilly yesterday evening, but being raised to be parsimonious about public utilities, I have the heat set at 66°F (19°C for my metric readers) and I'll often just cover myself with a blanket while doing whatever I'm doing rather than kick it up to 68° or warmer. Besides it snowed Saturday and the yard was still beautifully covered in white. True, when I was a child in Canoga Park I was cold when it got below 70°, but my blood started to thicken with that 8 AM long distance running class at CSUN, there was winter 1990-91 in Helena, Montana (and this after a couple of summers in the Bay Area 😏), and this'll be my 24th winter in Peoria.

But when it seemed rather warm in the Parish Hall when I stepped in there for a few moments before going to bed and the temp in there was only 62°, I figured I needed to check the heat. Granted the Parish Hall always feels warmer than the Parsonage when their thermostats report about the same temp. But it was downright chilly when I stepped back into Parsonage. Still I didn't expect what I saw on the thermostat: 50°F (10°C)!

Well, come to think of it, I hadn't heard the furnace running, but I've washed dishes and done a couple of loads of laundry and I hear the water heater (and still feel hot water). But the furnace does not want to go on. And of course it's one without a pilot light, so this is not going to be something simple like the wind blew it out through the exhaust and I can simply re-light it. But I'm not calling someone at 11 PM, either. But with a hooded sweatshirt over the PJ's (my head is on the outside wall) and the oil-filled radiant heater at the foot of my bed, I was actually warm enough overnight.

Meanwhile, in this morning's mail is an invitation to join Sam's Club addressed to "Sandra Tibbetts" at the (correct) Parsonage address. Sandra Tibbetts? I have every once in a while received mailings for "Mrs. Steven Tibbetts" (who I have yet to meet, at least using that name), but this is the first time she's had a first name. Next to this address is a photo of a diapered baby crawling away, and on the other side is a mother with infant captioned "Big saving for growing families." I think not.

And no, that's not how I was warm enough last night.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Oh, my!

And so yesterday I put in the mail my subscription renewals to Analog and Asimov's, science fiction magazines that I have suscribed to since I was in university. As is my custom, I renewed for the longest available period -- 3 years at $94.97 each. It's the best deal that way.

This afternoon I noticed a recent issue of Asimov's in a stack of mail, so I took a glance. The mailing label is on the front cover, which I usually carefully peel off so I can see the full artwork. As I started peeling it I noticed the expiration date of my current sub -- 04/01/16. The year 2016 in my mind seems far in the future, but it's actually less than 8 weeks away. Add three years to it, and my sub will expire April 2019. I'll be 60.