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 Olsen (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 Olsen'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!


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tonight on the TV: Martin Luther

It's been a long day in which I've not accomplished everything I needed to do today. But at 7 o'clock tonight on Peoria's PBS station (WTVP, Channel 47) Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World is airing and I'm going to sit back and watch it. This is short notice, but if you are in the Peoria area, it's worth watching. It'll be re-broadcast at midnight tonight and again on Friday (the 15th) at 1 am. Other PBS stations are broadcasting it at other times over the next few weeks.

It was 500 years ago that the Reformation began with Luther's posting of Ninety Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences that October 31st.

Here's a trailer:

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Click Here

So I was listening to Pandora on the computer and I switched from one of my stations to my Latin/Mexican music station. To silence the new blue screen appeared -- it may look nice on a smart phone, but Pandora's new appearance is not nearly as useful on my computers -- giving no indication as to what song was loading up. Then near the bottom of the screen appeared the words, "Click here to see Shakira's profile."

Of course I did.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Hating Autocorrect

Honest, I did not type "We Host These Truths..." to title my previous post of the Declaration of Independence. For heaven's sake, the "l" isn't close to the "s" on the keyboard, and for "t" and "d" I use different fingers. Nevertheless...

Grrr. At least I've been able to edit the title to "We Hold These Truths..." as it appears here. But those who find the post via the blogroll at Peoria.com

or on Facebook may still wonder (if they notice — after all, I didn't see it until today), "What is Pastor Zip thinking?"

I really hate autocorrect.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

We Hold These Truths...

Written 241 years ago, the Declaration of Independence is more than stirring words. The Bill of Rights Institute notes,
The declaration contained 3 sections: a general statement of natural rights theory and the purpose of government, a list of grievances against the British King, and the declaration of independence from England. More than 20 years later, the Second, Third, Fourth, and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution would contain prohibitions against the government to prevent the same forms of tyranny as were listed as grievances.
We read it today — and I like to post it on this day — not only to recall the nation's founding, but to see how well the nation continues to live by the principles by which she was established. Reposted from last year, the year before, 6 years ago, and 8 years ago this day on Pastor Zip's Blog
, and 10 years ago on my other blog.


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.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

The Bishop Is Elected, Again

Bishop John Roth has been elected to a second term as the fourth bishop of the Central/Southern Illinois Synod, ELCA. The vote was 160-123.

Thanks be to God!

Electing a Bishop, Again

Elections are stranger than I once thought.

[The first formal acknowledgement of a significant anniversary.]

The Central/Southern Illinois Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the local church body ("judicatory") in which I serve, gathered in Assembly at 2 pm Thursday, June 1. After about an hour of the usual opening activities, the time came for the election of a Bishop. ELCA Bishops are elected for 6-year terms and, in our Synod, are eligible for re-election. Our current Bishop, John Roth, was first elected in June 2011, a time the ELCA was still in considerable angst. Some of that angst is reflected in posts to this blog.

Bishops are elected by what is called an ecclesiastical ballot. In our Synod there are no candidates or campaigning (at least formally) ahead of time. Sometimes there will be conversations here and there of possible pastors who might serve well, though even that tends to happen only when we know we are electing a new Bishop to replace one who has resigned office or has announced his intention to retire. Rather we gather in the midst of prayer and discussion, and speak of the Holy Spirit doing his work through the election process. Bishop Roth had earlier indicated he was willing to be elected to a second term.

On the first ballot, the eligible voters — the pastors and deacons of the Synod, along with lay voting members sent by the congregations (usually a male and female from each — may write the name of any pastor on the ELCA clergy roster, those in congregations, those serving in other settings, those temporarily not serving somewhere, even those who have retired. If one name appears on 75% of the ballots, that pastor is elected. If there is no election, that ballot serves as a nominating ballot. For the second ballot, voters write the name of one of the nominated pastors, and there is an election if one receives 75% of the votes. If not, the top 7 vote getters appear on the third ballot. (Note that 6 years ago I was the 8th top vote getters.) If one of these receives 2/3rds of the third ballot votes, we have an election. If not, the 4th ballot lists the top three of the third, and 60% are needed for an election. If there is no election, the top two stand on the fifth ballot, the pastor with the majority of votes being elected.

And so we cast the first ballot, and learned the results first thing Friday morning. Bishop Roth received 157 of 291 votes, or 54%. No election, with the next highest number of votes being 26, 22, and 12. All in all, 45 pastors received votes. (I was not among them.) A half-hour was given for those nominated to officially withdraw their names, and shortly after 10 am after doing other business, we were presented a list of 15 pastors remaining; in addition to the Bishop, one who received 4 votes, two who received 2 each, and the rest who'd been named on one ballot. We voted again, took care of other business, and then heard the second ballot results.

No election. Bishop Roth with 193 votes, but that was only 64.5% of the ballots cast, not the 75% necessary. The next highest received 22 votes, the 7th place pastor received 8. The top seven (which, interestingly, included 3 retired pastors) were given time (about 2 1/2 hours over lunch and a time for smaller forums on various subjects, and the approval of the Synod's budget) to fill a form with biographical information and a response to a couple of questions, and for each to prepare a 5 minute address to the assembly before the third ballot. And we voted again, this time using the electronic voting devices.

So we knew after a couple of moments that Bishop Roth had received 174 votes, but that was 61% of the votes cast, short of the 2/3rds needed for an election. Next came Pr. Ryan Anderson, who serves near Peoria (he's part of the weekly pericope study group of pastors who meet weekly at Zion) and who last month was elected Dean of the Northern Conference, with 41 votes, and Pr. Tony Metz of Quincy with 33. (The remaining four received 10-14 votes each.)

And so we listened to the top three respond to a few question that Assembly voting members had submitted, and then we voted for a fourth time. Bishop Roth received 154 votes, about 52%, followed by Pr. Metz with 75, and Pr. Anderson with 68. No election yet, as 60% is needed for a fourth ballot.

And we recessed for the banquet — that's where retirements and significant anniversaries are commemorated, thus my certificate above — and conversation (where many pondered the meaning of these votes) and sleep. And, of course, lots of prayers. The fifth ballot is scheduled for 8:35 inthe morning, after which the Bishop-elect will address the Assembly.

And if you're wondering, I've been voting to re-elect Bishop Roth. He has served the Church faithfully and well.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ascension Day Worship

The Ascension of Our Lord commemorates the risen Christ's ascension to heaven. The coronation of Christ the King is celebrated, but so in him is the enthronement of humanity itself. As Saint John Chrysostom (ca. 347-407) declared in a sermon on the Ascension, "Our very nature ... is enthroned today high above all cherubim." Notice how this thought appears in the liturgy, particularly in the both the Collect and Proper Preface historically appointed for this Festival day.
Almighty God, we believe that on this day your only Son, our Redeemer, ascended into heaven.
May we in spirit also ascend to that heavenly home and there forever live.
Through the same Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord.
He lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all place offer thanks and praise to you, O Lord, holy Father, through Christ our Lord; who, after his resurrection, appeared openly to his disciples and, in their sight, was taken up into heaven, that he might make us partakers of his divine nature. And so, with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven, we praise your name and join their unending hymn...

The Ascension of Our Lord is one of the six principal Festivals of the Church Year celebrating the central events in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ and of his Church&mdashthe other five being the days of Pentecost, the Holy Trinity, Christmass, the Epiphany of Our Lord, and Easter.

Following Saint Luke's account in the Acts of the Apostles, the Ascension of Our Lord falls on the fortieth day of Easter, and thus always on a Thursday. This festival day has been included on the Church's calendar since at least the fourth century.

If you are in the Peoria area, you are welcome to worship the Ascended Lord Jesus with us this evening. In addition to Zion's celebration, I am aware of two other Peoria Lutheran churches, Mt. Calvary (whose pastor is also a PLTS alumnus) and Trinity (both Missouri Synod congregations), that offer worship on the actual Ascension Day. St. Michael's and All Angels Anglican Church in Peoria, which offers Vespers and Holy Communion every Thursday, is also celebrating it. In the Catholic Church, Ascension Day is moved to next Sunday.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sometimes This Job* Stinks :'(

It's one of the saddest verses in the Gospels. Jesus, fresh from amazing teaching, healings and casting out demons, and even raising a girl from the dead, comes to his hometown of Nazareth.
And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.
                                                 — St. Mark 6:5, ESV
But after what transpired this afternoon (and, yes, given my recent dealings with these particular people, I knew that this may not end well — and, indeed, it didn't), I might rest a bit better tonight remembering that there were times when even the Son of God couldn't help someone.


Pray for them. Pray for me. Pray for pastors who don't always perform miracles.

* – I know, the Holy Ministry isn't a "job," it's a calling from God. Which just makes this feel even worse. Don't worry, though, I'll survive this.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Worried about the West's vanishing Christian character? Go to church!

Melanie McDonagh writes at The Spectator on the conversation of the decline of the Church of England, but it applies here in the US, too:
So, I have a simple proposal for the cultural Christians who agonise about the rise of Islam and the vanishing Christian character of Britain: go to church. Take the place of Generation A. Turn up for Easter Sunday as well as Christmas; keep Pentecost Sunday, because hardly anyone now knows what Whit Sunday stands for, and Ascension Thursday. There are lots of churches out there, you know: Anglicans in cities are spoiled for choice, and you can’t throw a brick in places like Norfolk without landing on something fabulous from the fifteenth century. Anglicans have, moreover, for those that seek it out, the loveliest liturgy, and you don’t deserve it. There are rubbish clergy, of course, but, you know, it’s possible to separate your feelings about the thing that’s being celebrated from the celebrant (Catholics are quite good at this). So, get out there. The numbers attending Anglican services fell below a million at the beginning of last year; they’re still falling.

It’s kind of Matthew Parris to wish the CofE well from outside, but the institution is not going to survive on the basis of the flying buttresses (to quote Winston Churchill) alone; it needs pillars even more. Go and get stuck in, reader, or else abstain from complaining about the cultural atrophy of the West.
Read it all here.

This Sunday we'll be observing the 90th Anniversary of the dedication of the current Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Peoria. It's not from the fifteenth century, but it's still pretty fabulous, with a lovely liturgy, and the clergy... Well, if you're near Peoria, here's a place for you.

Tip o' the hat to Canon Kendall Harmon at TitusOneNine.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Repost: Black Friday

Today is the real Black Friday.

Originally posted here Good Friday 2015.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hey Father!

So after eating, Todd and I are walking up University Street to the parking lot when we hear the shout, "Hey Father!" Todd spots her first, a black woman waiting in the left-turn lane who'd rolled down her window. The corner of University and Main is, especially at Noon, the most congested in Peoria. Hers is the only car with an open window and she's looking our way, waving her arm.

"Hey, Father, can you pray for my nephew? We lost him yesterday, he's 3 months old."

"Absolutely," I shout to her across the street.

"Pray for his family, too, Father" she continues. "His name is L... K.... Pray for them when you pray next."

"I will," I say as we start walking again and she thanks me and the light changes so she'll be able to make that left turn onto Main.

And I have. As I have for C..., who rang up my groceries at the market the other evening. Her request wasn't as specific, but she was appreciative that I would pray the Holy Spirit to watch over her.

This was only moments after Todd and I had prayed,
...I pray that all my intention, actions, and works of this day may be directed solely to the greater glory of God's Divine Majesty....

Does this happen to pastors who wear polo shirts?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Community? Not!

I just heard it used again on a radio broadcast and I've had it. The speaker was representing "the hospital community." A few weeks ago a young woman described trying to break into "the modeling community." The "education community" is upset over the President-elect's choice for their Cabinet post.

Nonsense! These aren't "communities," where people live or have personal relationships with one another like the community in which I was raised or the communities with whom I worship the Lord Jesus. I didn't pass the CPA exam to become part of "the accounting community." These are businesses, trades, professions, industries.

I know. Language changes over time. Words take on expanded, or new, or even very different, meanings. And when that happens to help in understanding or communicating, it can be well and good. But more often than not these new "communities" are just trying to put a human face on something that is often not very friendly or neighborly.

The community doctor of decades ago listened when you weren't feeling well. I remember my dad's doctor -- and we were part of the Kaiser plan, one of the original "health maintenance organizations" -- coming to the house when he had the mumps. Just like Marcus Welby or Dr. Kildare! Recently the local hospital stopped allowing one's family doctor to be one's attending physician. You must be treated by their "hospitalist" and your doctor isn't supposed to even come in through the doors to be part of your care.

But this afternoon on the radio they're "the hospital community," kindly concerned about the repeal of Obamacare. Not the hospital industry having first access to everyone's money. Yeah.