Wednesday, December 28, 2005

This One is For Tony

Polly over at Mossback Meadow wrote a great post an important aspect of the Lutheran Liturgy: memorization and how, through this memorization, or at least familiarity allows for a fuller worship. In this case it is the Brother-in-Law of her pastor....

She wrote about her pastor's Brother-in-law, Patrick. He was able to worship in his own way because he knows the liturgy. He is able to sing and pray and follow along and worship his Lord in a comfortable place.

I wrote the following on Sept. 1, 2002. We had just moved to Indiana and my father had officially "retired" from the ministry just a few days prior. I wrote in my online diary an entry titled "Joyful Noises," I just reread it for the first time in a long time, it still brings a smile and a tear.
"my father retired last week. he retired from the active ministry, most of you know that already (that is if you read the entries pertaining to that last week... lol). his retirement service was moving. i had a lump in my throat is it was going on.
i want to say a word about the residents my father ministered to in the last six years of his ministry.

my father was a chaplain to 60 or 70 retarted people. some were very high functioning and some were just a step above vegatable. he was very proud of his residents (he called them that). you see sometimes they can be very loud and vocal. but this day they were well behaved. they were perfect.

when we sang a hymn his residents would, too. any way they could, in some cases they just hooted. there was one, whose name i don't remember, that had the ability to sing any song he heard just once. he sang along with us almost perfectly. i don't know if he knew the words he was singing, but he sang any way. it was just touching as all get out.

then we said the Lord's Prayer. they spoke it. some did it verbally, others through hoots. but they said it in their own way.

what is it that the bible says about "make a joyful noise unto the Lord?" they did and it was music to my ears."

Who is Tony that I mention in the title? Tony was one of the most loving and good people I have ever met. He he Down's Syndrome, but he had the Faith. He believed. He was almost like a little elder for to my dad. He would come in and check to make sure everything was okay and talk with my dad, or I, or my mom. He lived in a group home that was administered by Bethesda Lutheran Services and on Sunday he took the collection and was an usher during communion services. Sadly, before we moved from Texas Tony was dealt, what seemed like to me a raw deal, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease (which is common in people with Down's Syndrome) and he quickly forgot how to do thinks like take communion, he died a few months after we left Texas, but I know he died with Faith.

I'm not sure if this entry makes, but these are thoughts that were dusted off after reading Polly's entry.

The Lion Stays in the Picture

Yesterday my father and I went and saw the movie The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe based on the book of the same name by the Christian apologetic C.S. Lewis. I enjoyed it, but it did make me feel uncomfortable at times-- particularly the scene in which the White Witch meets Edmund and she gets him in her sleigh. In the book I had the feeling that the Witch was trying to be a mother figure to Edmund and get him into her "web" that way, but in the movie it had an entirely different feel to me. It felt smarmy and dirty. It felt like she was trying to seduce Edmund in a sick sexual way. I have a feeling that I was "reading" more into the scene than was really there, it didn't necessarily ruin the film, but it colored it in a way that I had a hard time shaking. Was it a movie that made me "oh, wow, what a great movie"? No. It was better than most, but I wouldn't say it was a homerun of a movie. Maybe I'm just too jaded. I don't know, it was alright and that's about as far as I can go with it.

Now last night after I got home from the movie I read some other reviews of the movie on various blogs. One of the blogs, it was in the Lutheran blogosphere realm, had a long comment asking the question "was Aslan, a lion, an appropriate symbol for Christ." The writer, and I really don't remember which one it was, came down on the side of no. The reason behind his thinking was that scripture tends to give Christ a more subdued imagery (that of a sheep). I found myself thinking about that today at work in between customers and I came to the conclusion that in this case a lion is a perfect symbol for Christ. Here is why I think so: we have to remember that the book series was written for kids, not adults who tend to think too much about things and let that get in the way (I'm just as quilty on that regard, believe you me. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is not a retelling of the Gospel story, uses aspects and mirrors it at times, but it is not an out and out retelling. The use of a lion to represent the Christ figure is important. To a kid the lion is one of the most powerful, if not THE most powerful and strong animal there is. Let's not forget the lion is the "king of the jungle" therefore he is the king of all animals. I seriously don't think that a sheep, or a goat, or a donkey or even elephant would have the same effect. I found it very powerful that a lion would let itself be tormented and killed willingly, it is hard to put my brain around a lion being so docile and mallable. Aslan, let himself be killed in place of Edmund. By rights, Aslan could have ripped everyone to bits without breaking a sweat. I tried to put myself in the mindset of a ten year old, or maybe an eight year old. The fact that Aslan didn't do anything to protect himself and allowed the evil White Witch to have her way with him was incredible and intense. C.S. Lewis was not stupid, he got it, he understood how a child might view it. I think it was a very wise and good choice to make the lion the symbol for the Christ figure.

*edit* Here is the post that got it all started, thanks to Old School Confessional for planting the "seed" as it were.

I Would Just Like to Say

that I absolutely love my new little wireless mouse. It makes working on my laptop so much easier and toggeling between pages a snap. The little finger mouse thing was cool, but now that I have it turned off I am able to type so much quicker and easier (I don't have to worry about bumping it with my fat thumbs). I'm so happy my aunt gave me a gift card to Best Buy. The little mouse only cost me 1.49 out of pocket. I am well pleased, that is all.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

So, How's Your Faith Today?

You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thes. 5:5-11

Last night, at about 3 am, I read the above passage. I read it about a hundred times, it seemed like. Yes, I finished 1 Thessalonians last night in my slow and plodding reading of the Bible. It has been an exciting journey that I have had in the last year and a half. There have been serious highlights and incredible "oh wow" moments in my reading travels and last night was one of them. The whole of 1 Thessalonians was incredible. I actually read it two or three times before I went to bed (luckily its a short book so it lends itself to repeated rereadings at 3 am).

I use the Concordia Self-Study NIV bible, but I didn't read the introducion to 1 Thessalonians, which was actually a blessing. As I read the book I found a word rattling around in my head. That word was encouragement. I felt encouraged in my faith after reading it. That last sentence seems silly, but it is true. I was encouraged in Faith through the Word of God and the Holy Spirit and it felt good, like a cool glass of water on a hot day (sorry about the cliche).

After I finished reading I went back and read the introduction and read this:
Believers in God’s grace came under physical attack at Thessalonica. One of the main reasons for writing 1 Thessalonians may be summarized in a single word—persecution. Paul came to Thessalonica after suffering persecution (beating and imprisonment) at Philippi (2:2). He was forced to leave Thessalonica as a result of persecution. Even then persecution continued from the Jews at Thessalonica, who followed Paul to Berea and stirred up antagonism there (Ac 17:10–13). Because Paul knew that persecution continued to be a problem at Thessalonica, he sent Timothy to find out what the situation was there (3:1–5)—how the believers in God’s grace were withstanding persecution.
Paul writes to encourage these Christians to remain steadfast in the face of such persecution by taking comfort and hope in God’s grace. He presents Christ as their hope of salvation at the present time and at his second coming. When Christ returns he will rescue (1:10; 5:4–11), reward (2:19), perfect (3:13), resurrect (4:13–18) and sanctify (5:23) all who trust in God’s grace. (taken from the introduction of 1 Thess. p 1832, boldfacing mine)

The word "persecution" jumped out at me and the line "encourage these Christians to remain steadfast" struck me as well. I think the words in 1 Thessalonians should really hit home to modern day Christians. We might not be persecuted with lions and wooden crosses, but to a certain exent it seems that we, as a faith, are being persecuted or at the very least marginalized. One's Faith can take a hit with that kind of thing. I know mine does. Temptation is every where and very real. General malise towards the Christian is rampant. But we can take comfort in the fact that we are saved by Grace and are Justified through Faith. We are "in the world," not "of the world."

Today I found myself reflecting on the readings from last night and there has been a strange little smile on my face. How is my faith today? Strong and burning bright. It is alive. And for that I am thankful.

Doing My Part From Indiana


Interview of the Kinkstah Hisself


I'm jealous, a friend of mine who lives in Texas has signed up to be a volunteer for Kinky's campaign... I'm hoping she'll get me swag... *hint, hint*

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Ultimate Re-Gift

There is a relatively new term in our American lexicon; this term comes with a stigma to it, but it also one of those terms that comes with a nudge in the side and knowing glances. Its one of those "everyone has done it" phrases. That phrase is "re-gift" or "re-gifting." Basically it means that if you are given a gift that you don't like and need to give a gift to someone else you take the gift given you and give it to someone else. That is a bad definition, but it gets to the heart of the matter pretty well.

I see an awful lot of potential re-gifts in retail. As a Christian, though, I am encouraged to re-gift. I am encouraed to re-gift Christ. I am instructed to "go and make disciples of all nations..." (Matt. 28:19). As I sat in church yesterday singing songs celebrating the birth of Jesus the phrase "re-gift" kept bouncing around in my head. The phrase has taken on a bit of a "smarmy, overtone;" I am actually a bit reluctant to use it.

Paul, in his Patoral letters writes gleefully of the joy he gets when hears about a group of people who have come to faith because someone told them about Christ and his love. Example:
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Col. 1:3-14 (boldfacing mine)

or perhaps this:
as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. 1 Thes. 2:2-4

Paul was able to see how "re-gifting" to others spread the Word and the Grace of Jesus Christ.

Maybe its better to say "share-gift" instead of "re-gift." I was reminded yesterday of a little skit we used to do at Camp Lone Star. It was a silent skit, but it went something like this: someone walked around with an invisible box in their hand and other people came up and take the box, but the person would turn away and the box would get smaller. Eventually, the person with the invisible box would relent and give the box to someone else, but to the surprise of everyone the box got bigger after the second person got a part of it. The second would share the box and so forth and so on. It was a simple skit that got the point across: share the joy, share the gift.

I have decided that I don't like that term "re-gift," because in fact I am not re-gifting when I tell someone about Christ, but giving them their own special gift.

Blessings to all this Christmas Season and may your New Year be filled with peace and blessed.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Winter Solstice, New Agers, Donnie Walsh, and Bonhoeffer

I had someone wish me a "happy winter solstice" yesterday. I was taken aback by the wish and all I could respond with was a "you have a happy holiday as well." He then proceeded to hand me a instant Lotto scratch off ticket, which, as I was walking to my car, I scratched off and won two bucks. Steve, the guy who wished me the "happy winter solstice" is a weird duck. He is the leader of a merry band of, as we call them at the store, "crazy crystal new agers." Usually on the weekends Steve and his merry band come to the store and set up shop in the cafe. Sometimes they'll have a bunch of crystals and sometimes they'll have this little pyramid made out of copper tubing that sits in the middle of the table. Now, I don't know exactly what they do because I'm too busy worrying about finding the newest Jan Karon book. So, what the crazy crystal new agers do is a bit of mystery to me.

He gives us things, though. I have yet to recieve them so I might not be all that special, but he likes to give people socks, I don't know why, but he does. I have gotten some little rocks from him-- a little green one and a little brown one. The green one is actually quite pretty and I have it on my desk (somewhere) buried under papers, I imagine. The green one is supposed to be helpful in me making wealthy-- please note, it hasn't worked yet. *chuckles*

He gave me the little brown stone one day because he saw me rubbing my head becase I was trying to get rid of a migraine headache (next to impossible at work). He asked what was wrong and when I told him he ran out to his car and came back with the little brown rock and a set of four or five stapled pieces of paper. On each page was a list of rocks, stones, and minerals and what their "properties" are; the little brown rock supposedly cured headaches. Okay, Steve, thanks. I put it in my wallet and left it there for a while. I think it is now on my desk next to the green rock.

The other day he asked me about the ring I wear on my right hand. It is plain silver ring with an ichtus, or as some people call it "the Jesus Fish." I tried to explain to Steve, as quickly and as quietly as I could (I was on the clock and I feel uncomfortable doing this kind of thing on company time) the basics behind the ring and what it meant. I don't know if he understood it, if he cared, or if he was just trying to be nice (I have a feeling it was the former instead of the two latter instead of the other two choices).

Working in a bookstore does present some interesting experiences. For example, yesterday, Christmas Eve, Donnie Walsh, the GM of the Indiana Pacers came in. He is not a hard guy to miss. He is short and stocky, but he has a very distinct voice- a gravelly, smoke hardened, Bronx inflected thing. I didn't recognize him right away until he spoke. He came in yesterday for some books on "Jesus' words in aramaic" and "contemplations on the Psalms." We actually had a couple books on the topics. I couldn't find the C.S. Lewis book on the Psalms, but we did have one by Bonhoeffer, and I also got him to buy The Cost of Discipleship after I talked up Bonhoeffer for few minutes.

I have read about three or four of Bonhoeffer's books and they have all made me work awfully hard. One of my favorites is Life Together, a book that deals with Christian community and how to work together as Christians. It is a wonderful little book. Cost of Discipleship, though really cooks my noodle. I had often heard the phrase "cheap grace," but I had never trully understood the idea behind it, once I got it though my spiritual life took on a new meaning. Bonhoeffer is good for a spiritual frying pan to the head every now and again.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


I have the cold from Hell. My head feels like a bowling ball and my sinuses are clogged. And to top it all off, I over drew my bank account... wonderful day.

I think I'll report to sick call and stay there for a week.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I'll Be Your Huckleberry

The other day, while I was at work I found the following card feel free to click on the images to see them better):



I wasn't sure what the card was for, but I put it in my wallet and forgot about it until last night. I was cleaning out my wallet of old reciepts and things like that. I had stuck it behind one of my credit cards. I will say I was intrigued, if for no other reason to see what it was all about. I will say that I wasn't surprised that it was a pseudo-religous site.

So, I typed in the address and was presented with two choices: The Red Pill, or The Blue Pill.

It was an interesting excercise. I quite like the fact that those responsible for the website feel it necessary to "warn" viewers not to see the movie Matrix because some of "the langauge and immodesty are not fit for those that are unplugged..." which, I have found out means that you are already a "follower of Christ." So, I guess that means I am unplugged. I feel awfully plugged in, though.

According to the card and the website we are in a great big conspiracy. I'd be interested to see what you think.

I wonder, is there a third option: a purple pill?

Wake-up Verse and Where it Took Me

Last night I tried to go to sleep after playing on the internet for a few hours. I didn't do anything spectactular while I was online. I did skim through the Lutheran Carnival at The Aardvark's place o' residence in this great blogosphere and I must say that I again realized that I haven't a clue about Lutheran Doctrine. Go read the Carnival this week. It is just chock full o'nutty thigs, let me take this opportunity to thanks and congratulate the Great Aardie for a fantastic job, he had mucho entries he had to wade through and he stitched together a nice carnival... here, here *raises beer glass and bangs on the table with his left fist*

Sorry about the digression. Where was I, oh yes, I tried to go to sleep after being online for a fe hours and that is a near impossility. I need to read a book or somethng for a little bit afterwards to that my eyes and brain can recalibrate and reconoiter themselves into my head, put another way I am impressed that I can actually see this morning. These last couple days at work have been crazy as everyone runs hither and yon trying to get their Christmas gifts (for the more P.C. out there: their Holiday gifts). Being in retail at Christmas time is a gas, but can be very tiring. I finally fell asleep around two or so this morning, I think. I didn't have a real good, deep sleep, but it was enough. I woke up about seven and got a drink of water and then went back to sleep again until about nine. I had a deeper sleep that tieme, much deeper. As I came out of that sleep a strange thing happened. For some reason I found myself whispering to myself John1:10. I don't know why, but I kept repeating John 1:10. Once, I got myself somewhat conscious I reached down for my good ol' Concordia Self-Study Bible and read John 1:10
He was in the world and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.

For the last 45 minutes I have been trying to figure out why I was thinking of this verse-- let me clear about this: I was not familiar with this verse, I mean I've read it before, but I could not have quoted it from memory. This kind of thing kind of creeps me out in a good way. I have often heard it said that God talks to us through scritures, matter of fact, I believe it is in 2 Timothy
All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that every man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.(3:16-17)

Sadly, though, I know that the John verse is true in my casae. I don't recognize The Son. I like to think I do, but I know I don't-- it is just another failing of mine in my sinful nature, but thankfully, God's Grace trumps this: I am made clean through His love and His son's sacrifice.

By their own strength, people cannot fulfill God's Law. They are all under sin, subject to eternal wrath and eath. Because of this we cannot be freed by the Law from sin and be justified... the promise of forgiveness of sins and of justification has been given us for Christ's sake, who was given for us in order that He might make satisfaction for the sins of the world. He has been appointed Mediator and Atonting Sacrifice.... forgiveness of sins is freely offered... it follows that we cannot justify ourself.... the promise can only be recievedby faith, the Gospel.... faith freely recieves forgiveness of sins.... faith is the true knowledge of Christ and helps itself to the benefit of Christ...
taken from the Apology of the Augsburg Confession Article IV, Lines40-46. Book of Concord, Reader's Edition

"Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks' wares. The sacracments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at ut prices. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasure from which she shwers blessing with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; Grace without cost! The essence of grae we suppose , is that the account has been aide in advance; and, because it has been paid everything can be had for nothing.... Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle... (it) means the justification of the sin without the justification of the sinner... it is imperative for the Christian to achieve renunciation, to practice self-effacement, to distinguish his life from the life of the world. He must let grace be grace indeed, otherwhise he will destry the world's faith in the free gift of grace.... Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion withou confession, absolution without personal confesion. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ... Costly grace is the trasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has... Costly grace is the gospel whihc must be sought again and again, the gift must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.... it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ... it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son... Above all, it is grace becase God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is he Incarnation of God..."

from The Cost of Disipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (italics, mine).

My grace is sufficent for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Cor. 12:9

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Saturday Before Christmas... "Into the Breach..."

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot...

--Henry V Act 3 Scence 1 lines 1-35

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

So Long as They're Dunkin Donuts I Won't Mind

Who's bringing coffee? *Chuckles*

First Semester Complete

I just thought I should mention that I successfully completed my first semester of graduate word at IUPUI (Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis) in Library Science.

So, This is Christmas

I work in retail. I sell books. This will be my sixth Christmas season with the company I work for; I worked two or three other Christmases with other retail outfits. I love what I do. I love the activity and I sell something that I love: books. Everyday is different and I get a certain amount of joy out of getting the book into the customer's hand. Nine times out of ten the whole transaction is easy and friendly, that other one out of ten doesn't often cause me angst. Every once in a while some kook or somone who is having a horrible day and decides to take it out me will ruffle my feathers, but its not that big of a deal.

I must say that I have gotten a kick out of this little controversy over what to say to someone as they leave the store. There are some who say that in order to be "politically correct" we must say "Happy Holidays," then there are those who say that we should say "Merry Christmas." As a retail dawg I could really care less. I say thank you and take your money. I usually add a "have a nice day," or a "take care and drive safe." I just don't have time to wade into that controversy and I really don't care. My ambivalence to the whole thing is almost frightening to me, I suppose I should care, but I don't. The whole "merry Christmas v. happy holidays" brouhaha doesn't even register on the "is this pertinent to my salvation" scale. Its not, so I don't worry about it.

Since I work in book trade I see alot of crazy titles. Two of my favorite are fighting over Christmas. One comes from the "right" the other from the "left." Each one accuses the other of taking over Christmas. I'm happy to report that neither is selling very well. Thought, there is one book that has been flying off the shelves called Misquoting Jesus. I'm reading that right now myself. It is actually interesting. Thought, I'm afraid it is going to quickly go he route of "Jesus couldn't of said that!" which always drives me nuts. Right now, though the author is giving the history of how the Bible came to be what it is. I never realized it before, but it thought that most of the people during biblical times were illiterate, I guess in the back of my mind I knew that, but I never made connections. The basic premise behind the book, I think, is that through human error and political meddling the text of the scriptures has changed (that is either through hook or by crook it ain't what it was meant to be...) I shall be interested to see what his conclusions are, that is if it keeps my interest. We shall see.

Tonight, as I was driving home from work I was listening to NPR and they had a story about "megachurches" being closed on Christmas day which to me seems like a contradiction and falls squarely in my "is the pertinent to my salvation" radar. Bunny Diehl has some thoughts this. You can read them here and here. One of my favorite bloggers (hat You Do, Do Quickly) has some thoughts on this issue too.

Here's what I think: there should be a church service on Christmas Day. I can remember having a service on Christmas Day and the almost literally the only people there were the pastor (my father, generally), my mother, me, and the organist. But the option was there, there were others there, but it was not the best attended service, but I still think it is important to have a service on Christmas Day. It doesn't have to be a fancy, bring down the house service (I've experienced those, usually on Christmas Eve and they are fun, but can be very distracting and too showy) but something quiet and meditative. I have always thought that a Christmas Day service can be the first subtle Lenten service.

Blessings to all.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Nania Vortex Has Sucked Me In, Sort Of

Today, before church I sat down in the living and read the newest Lutheran Witness. In the newest issue there is an article about The Chronicles of Narnia movie that was just released this past friday. Now, before I go to much further I have something to admit: I am 31 years old and I have never read the the Narnia Series. As a matter of fact I don't think I'd even heard of it until just a few short years ago. I wasn't as keenly aware of books as a kid as I am now (much to my detriment, I know. I hadn't read the Lord of the Rings series until about three years ago). I've digressed too far... let me get back on track...

I was reluctant to read the series mainly because there has been such a rumbling about it from the Christian "right" and the evangelicals that seem to be all powerful as of late. From what I could gather Narnia was a repackaged gospel with Christ as a Lion, a talking lion at that. I wasn't interested. Matter of fact, I was pretty much going out of my way NOT to read the series and I was NOT going to see the movie. It looked too much like the LOTR movies, but after reading the Lutheran Witness article I found myself changing my tune. I thought the article was a very well written and insightful piece. The article said that the series is a kid's story first and foremost and if you really want to find gospel-esque overtones you can find them, but they aren't busting you over the head.

Then in church Pastor Y took the opportunity to tie the movie release into his sermon. After church my parents and I went to Barnes & Noble because I wanted to pick up this DVD that I had had on hold for the last two weeks. While I was there I found and purchased a small box set of the mass market paperbacks of the Narnia series.

So, did I cave into popculture and hop on the band wagon? I don't know, maybe, but I think it is important to be able follow along with what's going on right now and Narnia is hot right now. When Mel Gibson's snuff film The Passion came out I saw it the only reason I saw it was I got a free ticket from somewhere-- I think my dad bought me the ticket... whatever-- that is three hours of life I'll never reclaim... dah! Me and digression tonight...

Anyway, I bought the set and I started reading the first book (The Magician's Nephew). I'm about 50 pages into it-- its not bad, I've found myself wondering where its going already and that's a good thing because I have six more books to go after that one!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Question for the Preachermans Out There

The main I never got any further than two quarters into my "seminary career" was the language requirements. Greek was an absolute mystery to me. I was lost pretty much for the get go, Hebrew, on the other hand, was a bit different. For some reason it "clicked" all of a sudden and I just "got it." I mean I could look at a verb and parse it nothing flat, the only problem was that I didn't "get it" soon enough. Hebrew is the only language that I actually felt comfortabe with. I really, really liked learning it.

I found out that I had been "removed" from seminary because my church at the time recieved a letter from the financial aide office telling them, the church, that they, the seminary fin. aide off., was returning the money my church had sent them for my education (I went to seminary for free, basically). I never got a note from any one. Oh, and the best thing was that the letter the church received was FULL of type-oh's.

But that is really neither here nor there. The reason I opened this post with that story is because even though I had a horrible time with the languages the sem made a believer out of me in regards to the validity of having a "working" knowledge of the original languages the scriptres were written in. I do believe that it is important. Now, I still remember a little Greek, I remember more Hebrew, but sometimes if I've been reading a scripture verse or hear one that strikes me as interesting I will go back and muddle my way through a bad translation from my Nestle Greek NT.

The other day, okay, last week, when I last read my Bible, I started in on 2 Corinthians. And chapter 1 verse 5 really got me thinking. It says "For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows." Now, I was an English/Education major in college (I got halfway through my student teaching and a mini-nervous breakdown-- not pretty) and because of this eduation I received I find myself often looking at language in different ways. I latched on to the phrases "flow over" and "overflows." And I began to look at them, turning the phrases this way and that. What I want to know, if any of the preachermans out there are still fluent in their Greek is how does that verse translate? Are the words for "overflow" and "flows over" the same word or different? What do they mean in the Greek. This could be a whole lot of nothing, but it seems like it could be important, too.

Could ya help a brother out?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

How I Feel

Sometimes, I wish I was a better Lutheran. Today, for example, I got out of bed and didn't go to church, I watched a little of it on tv, though (there is a Lutheran television service that comes from Ft. Wayne... its actually a really good one, too, good liturgy and everything....) but I didn't watch it all. It was cold this morning when I got out of bed and it was icey, but it wasn't so cold or icey that I couldn't go to church. This was the second Sunday, so that means that it was a "contemporary service" or do they call it a "celebration service" either way, when I realized that I really didn't want to go. I worked last night, but they let me come home early because the weather was... "unpleasant" sleet and freezing rain, I had to chip away the ice on my windows so I could drive. These are all excuses, aren't they? See, I'm no good. Nope, not me, no good Lutheran right over here. *points to self* I'm in the corner the one that says "hellbound" over head. That's me, I just wish I had my handbasket, that might make the descent that much easier. *waves* hello everyone, right here. Yeah, me. Wait, this corner is awfully full, no wonder there isn't any handbaskets all the other bad Lutherans have them, that's not fair. Oh, wait, what's this... hmm, these words... funny I seem to remember these, I've heard them somewhere before... maybe it was in a church, I dunno... but they sure sound familiar... strange, they make sense.... okay, okay, I'll do better next time. I'm human. I'm sinful and I'm in the corner... but these words... I like them
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
-- Rom. 3:22-26

Lutheran Carnival XII

Who is that guy on the left? He is my "church father" as well as my biologial father. That is a picture of him shortly after his ordination back in 1962. My father, Ernest G. Lindner was born in 1937 in Brooklyn, New York. His father, was a tug boat engineer and his mother a house wife. The words "Brooklyn" and "Lutheran" really don't go together all that well, but my father has been a livelong Lutheran. His pastor was Rev. Scaer (the father and grandfather of the Ft. Wayne Scaers), he graduated from Brooklyn College at the age of 20. He graduated from Concordia Seminary in Springfield, Illinois in 1962, his first call was in a small town (aren't they all small towns) in South Dakota. He served ther for ten years before being called the New Jersey where he met my mom and I was born. He served in the parish ministry for 40 years. In addition to serving in New Jersey, he has had churches in Virginia, New York, and Maryland. Before he retired he was a chaplain for the Bethesda Homes and Services he brought the Gospel to a group of people that needed to hear just as much as any one else: the mentally handicapped. Today, he is happily retired.

So, that's my church father for the week.

It was a light week for Carnival submissions I didn't really mind, though, I have football games to watch and school work to do.

Well, as Larry the Cableguy sez: let's "git-r-done."

Dan over at Necessary Roughness sent in this post. He describes it this way:
Responding to a question in one of his comments, "is there truly a
Christian religion follows Biblical teaching?", Dan at Necessary
Roughness examines willful deviance from Biblical teaching and compares
it with simple Biblical error. He also examines the consequences of a
particular error in Biblical teaching, the denial of infant baptism. He
also enforces why it matters to teach proper doctrine.
Right on, Dan.

From the Casa de Terr'ble Swede comes this submission (Thanks to Da Mizzuz Terr'ble Swede for this post). She writes that private confession is a good thing for Lutherans. And after reading her post I must say that I agree with her. I used think that was "too Catholic," but what do you know, she convinced me. Nice, job. I would like to note that Mssr. Swede did not send a submission (yes, I believe in guilt... lol)

Ye olde Aardvark weighs in with this submission. It seems Missouri has: "designed to expand in-state stem cell research and dumb down the definition of cloning..." go check it out. He also sends another
post regarding Kanasas State's football program.

Rev. Snyder sent in this post about the beginning of Advent, great post. Then he sent us this post about the "water from the rock" that we read in Numbers 20.

Here's an interesting post from the Unkown Lutheran Blogger over at What You Do Quickly. He writes about Lutheran Pastors forgetting the cross in their sermons, my friends, that's bad. That's not good at all. If one forget the cross, there isn't much to look to, is there? (Sorry, about the editorial comment). If nothing else, just go read What You Do Do Quickly. Just a great blog.

Rev. Stiegmeyer, who writes Burr in the Burgh has some things to say about the Christmas Season, I wish I had written this one. I wish I had written this one, too. Why is it that we can't have Christmas? I don't want to say "Happy Holidays." Here, here, Rev. Stiegmeyer... here, here.

Miss Sherrah Holobaugh wrote about how she was upset by a sermon her pastor gave "pledge Sunday" a couple Sundays ago. She asks the question "how do you quantify faith, anyways?" According her pastor it seems by what you put in the collection plate.

I give you two posts. The first one deals with some of the struggles I had in my past. The second post deals with thought that were generated from the first post as I read my bible study that evening.

Then, there's Jim. I worked with him when I was a counselor and lifeguard and basic "get-in-the-way-guy." I just thought I should add this post if for no other reason than I really like politics and I do enjoy a good beer every now and again.

And finally, Teresa who writes Be Strong in Grace writes about God's beauty in the Creation in the newly arrived Minnesota Winter.

So, there you have it. A rather short Carnival, but that's okay.

I pray the Lord's blessings on all of you during this Advent season. Oh, one more thing... Merry Christmas and may you have Mas Christ the days and weeks up the great Holiday...


p.s. Oh, feel free to go bug Dan Random Thoughts. You know, seeing how he'd the "pappa" of the Carnival... he didn't send any submissions... haha