Saturday, December 31, 2011
“The year You gave us is now ended.” And there is a certain sadness about leaving. Many thoughts are crowding my mind, clamoring for attention, and for possible solution, or action, or whatever.
With my years I tend to hear the word of the Psalm,
“Cast me not off in time of old age; forsake me not
when my strength faileth.” Ps. 71,9
But the psalm continues with this heartening word:
“O God, Thou hast taught me from my youth; and
Hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.
Now also, when I am old and greyheaded,
O God, forsake me not; until I have showed
Thy strength to this generation, and Thy
Power to every one that is to come.” Vv. 17.18.
Life is so interesting, isn’t it? Each day brings its joys as well as its little problems crying for a solution. It’s always enough to keep one busy, and interested, and alive.
Here in Texas we suffered a drought that damaged crops and trees, the entire State suffered, not only from that but from many, many destructive fires that swept large areas, including some housing developments.
I look out of my window at two stumps, each measuring nearly 3 feet across, of pine trees that have stood there ever since we moved here. 90 feet tall, and dead, and so had to be removed. (An exercise all in itself, for they stood but 12 feet from window.)
And yet, the year is rich with God’s blessing in our lives. He granted health, mobility, activity, friends, and a Church that brings us spiritual food regularly. What more can one ask?
So we leave the old year, look forward to the new, and ask God to bless the going always. May it be so in your house too.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
“When the days begin to lengthen,
The cold begins to strengthen”
The old saying holds true, does it not, for the temperatures are dropping, close to zero in some places already.
But the date was my father’s birthday and the entire family came together, bringing themselves, and food, to take advantage of a reason to get out of the house once more. So our house was full of uncles and aunts and cousins, except the teenagers, who came, then they got together and went skating at the lighted public rink in nearby Brown Deer.
Uncle Oscar and Uncle Robert settled down in the corner of the sun room with their chess game. The aunts busied themselves admiring various crochets scarves and shawls and then making coffee, the uncles usually ended up with a game of sheepheads at the kitchen table, and the youngsters were scattered all around playing games, talking, or getting into some kind of, (usually innocent), mischief.
No, my Father wasn’t inundated with presents. This was just an occasion in the winter for getting together, because the winter with its deeper cold and snow was setting in, and most people were home bound unless they had an emergency.
The happy evening ended with lunch, including sandwiches, cakes, cookies, and teenagers just home with their rosy cheeks and happy chatter. Then, as people were leaving, often it had started to snow a bit and the softly falling snow lent almost a dream-like quality the frosty night air.
But, before disbanding, the entire group sang a hymn, usually harmonizing, and ending with the reading of some Scripture by my Father. Then their feeling was, “Now let the winter begin”. God bless this house.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
It’s cool this morning and the walking was pleasant in these final days of the year 2011.
In one of the parishes I served one of my predecessors had taken this week to write a history of that year. It made for interesting reading and was quite helpful when it came time to write the story of that Church for their centennial celebration.
Such a look back can be helpful and healthy for a person.
One Church General Confession has these lines:
We have offended against Thy holy laws,
We have left undone the things we ought to have done,
We have done those things which we ought not to have done.
And there is no health in us.”
Strong stuff there.
Ah, January, and the year lay before us. Our resolutions were firmly made and stated out loud, “This year we would. . .” But many of them were already memories by the middle of the month. Better this time around, right?
Month followed month. We did our daily living, worked, rested, spent leisure time, planned, succeeded, failed now and then, and grew as a Christian person. And for the most part we were content with our lot, and happy to live the lives we were living.
We got along fairly well and others looked at us, some cherished us, others maybe abided us, still others maybe quarreled or argued. But that is all part of life, isn’t it?
So here we stand near the end of the year, looking back maybe with wonder that we did so much and advanced so far, maybe a bit down because there were things we left undone, again. All in all, a satisfying year was it not?
For the things “we ought not to have done,
“There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared”.
Rest on that promise, and the year is well spent. Give God the glory.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
“How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is giv’n,
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heav’n
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
the dear Christ enters in.”LSB 361,3.
For the message to the shepherds by the angel was:
“Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings
Of great joy, which shall bet to all people..
For unto you is born this day in the city of David
a SAVIOR, which is Christ, the Lord.” Luke 2, 10.11
So let us rejoice and sing:
“Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay,
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And take us to heaven to live with Thee there.” LSB 364,3
This Christmas Eve, I am again overwhelmed with the glory and grace of a loving God, who sends His Son to earth to live, suffer, die and rise again so the promised salvation story will be completed.
“Glory in excelsis deo”
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Nice rain overnight, so the air was rain-washed again this morning. And since the local paper did not double bag, it was a sorry mess, unreadable and useless.
A news item mentions the Christmas bird count which goes from December 14 to January 5. This is the 112th annual count that the Audubon Society does. The result is knowledge of where birds flock, where they are more abundant, and where less etc.
The count is very good and does track bird distribution. Any person who volunteers can help. Just get in touch with the local people. And thousands of people are doing this, and we are not even aware that it is going on.
Seems to me, in this Christmas Season, we will have all kinds of services, helpful work, much of it done behind the scenes, as it were.
“How silently, how silently,
The wondrous Gift is giv’n,
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in”. LSB 361,3
This Christmas, let us keep that truth in mind. Jesus is born in a stable, humbly, He enters unannounced, silently, Angels sing of this, and shepherds come to visit, and worship, and so do the wise men from the East later on.
The real noise begins when King Herod bumps into the knowledge of this King born, and he orders murder to “get rid of this distraction”. That is what He regards this King. Someone who will disturb the even way of his wretched life.
That is the real reason we see today cries about a manger scene on public property, or sneers at the Lord whom we worship, and all this other commotion caused by the enemy.
Our reaction, why, millions of Christians in this world live their lives of service and honor to give God glory in what they are, say, and do every day. That is what they are, and do, because Christ lives in them, as St. Paul tells us. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of god, whose you are?”
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
They report a massive snowstorm hitting areas in the Midwest right now, and we had a nice overnight rain so that the air this morning is nicely cool and rain-washed.
It strikes me how concerned people are for the comfort and well-being of people they do not even know and may never see again. Yet, for example, the owner of a motel along the highway to a Colorado Ski resort is quoted as saying, “We always keep several freezers and refrigerators well stocked during this season. They may not get to ski but they won’t be hungry”. Another, a mail carrier in Kansas, says, “I won’t be sent out in this because I’ll just get stuck, but this is Christmas, and my customers are waiting for cards, letters, and packages. I’ll do my best to get them there by Christmas.”
Life is made up of little things like this isn’t it? Just this morning I was at the post office mailing several packages. I had gone early and was there when the windows opened. My wait in line was only 12 minutes. And the clerk, who had had a busy day yesterday, was pleasant, smiling, knowledgeable and sent me on my way with thanks. And I imagine she also has shopping to do, and a house to decorate, and cards to send.
An article in the paper this morning reminds people to remember the invisible people in their lives with tips and thanks at Christmas. Mentions dog walker, night doormen, paper carriers, and the list goes on. Just stop a moment and ask yourself just how many people stand ready behind the scenes to serve you in your daily life? Impressive, isn’t it?
That is the reason the Christian is ever ready to “Give thanks unto Him, and praise His Holy Name”. For it is really God behind the scenes, seeing that the world goes on in spite of the mess we make.
Christmas, the gift of God’s Son, to be born and be one of us, is God’s gift, and that is right on time, and is our salvation. Bless His Holy Name, Alleluia!
Friday, December 16, 2011
This morning the weather is so balmy one can almost imagine we could be in the Valley for the winter.
But, have you noticed the absolutely gorgeous color around the church and in other areas of The Woodlands? Seems nearly as bright and festive as if we were back in northern Michigan for the Fall color season.
Strikes me the hand of God sends us these blessings, and for the most part, we either ignore them altogether, or accept them as our due.
And that suggests that President Harrison made the right call when, in the latest Lutheran Witness, he used his column to call for repentance.
We are about to celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ, who took on Himself the form of flesh, became one of us, then lived, suffered, died, and rose again, to pay for our sins.
And we do have them, for the bible called us sinners. “Behold, I was shape in iniquity, and In sin did my mother conceive me” and “there is no truth in us”.
The majesty of the universe and the beauty of God’s creation, let it remind us daily of God’s great love for this, His creation, mankind, and do let us start with “Repent, and believe the Gospel, for the kingdom of God is near.”. Bless His Holy Name.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
A blessed Christmas to you
Christmas cards and family notes
Fill our box.
Let this be our message
Of this season to your house.
St. John, in his first letter,
Well describes the result of this wonderful birth when he writes,
“See how the Father has loved us?
We are called God’s children,
Because that is what we are.” 3,1.
“Go tell it on the mountain,
O’er the hill and everywhere,
Go tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ Is born.”LSB 388
A Blessed Christmas 2011 indeed.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Yes, I was out this morning walking and greeting this cold day. I will admit I did it, instead of wishing, I mean I wore a sweater under the jacket, and also a pair of gloves. I have nothing to prove and will do anything for my comfort these days.
Before worship last evening I was looking at the Chrismons on the tree there in the corner, and I wondered about their origin, and why many Christian churches use them during this season. A little research showed that the term “Chrismon” is copywrited by Mrs. Frances Spencer in 1957. She had originated the concept and used it at Ascension Lutheran Church Danville, Va. Chrismons are patented designs and are hand made in white or gold. White for the sinlessness of Christ, gold for His glory. Sometimes there may be a touch of red for the blood spilled at death.
Chrismons are often a fellowship and a Christian education project. The symbols used represent many theological and biblical concepts, and we can and do learn some of the background Christians have always used for identity. In ancient times, for instance, a man meeting a stranger would maybe draw a fish in the dust. If the other responded, he knew he also believed Jesus Christ was Savior.
For us, let it be just one more reason to worship during these Advent times of preparation and awaiting the coming of Jesus, the Son of God, “Born of Mary”.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
The mystery remains. Biologists ask, “Why does one red headed duck have white feathers on the head?” The duck was hatched, one of a batch, in a marsh in northern Canada and took its flight to the marshes of the Texas Gulf coast. But unlike all the others in the flock, it has white feathers on its head, not red. And it remains a mystery to scientists who study such things.
Here is another. Yesterday I needed to go to Best Buy to get some ink cartridges for the printer – wish had had the ownership of that patent – and the place was swarming with people. The speakers were playing – guess what - “Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.” For what purpose? To drive sales for the season. And the mystery is that it seems to be working.
I asked the clerk at the register, ‘Do most of these people buy something?” She said, ‘Well, some come to play games, but most do buy.”
The mystery is, “How does this prepare the heart for the Birth?” Here is one suggestion, read and ponder this truth from St. Peter. "So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.
16 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.' 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1, 12-21