It's Halloween and we're not handing out toothbrushes and sugarless gum.
It's also Reformation day and we are going to a church service instead. What a nice change. In some other years we've been to a "Reformation party", to which Martin and I appeared as the Pope and his housekeeper. (How nasty.)
At this time of worry, I admire the courage and steadfastness of those who stuck their necks out to promote the reformation, foremost Martin Luther, himself. In reading: through the Psalms with Luther, you can get a sense of how he applied the Psalms to his own time, struggles and settings. Lord keep us all and bring us to a good end. May the freedom of the Gospel and the Christian person be spread far and wide.
Today, I met a Hindu man while standing on the upper level of the mall looking down at the flu shot clinic below. He asked whether flu shots were a good idea or whether they ruin your immune system. Of course, I wanted to encourage him to get a flu shot.
We started talking, or rather he did. He went on and on and on, touching on culture, ethnicity, friendship, Buddha, Sikhism, sustainable agriculture (you can live off 2 acres in India), the positive energy under domes and towers... I was praying to get a word in edge-wise and witness to the man, but it was tough, he was such a talker.
In the end, I was only able to say that I was a Christian, that unlike Buddha we believe in an existence with God after we die and that we believe in the forgiveness of sins.
Now the "forgiveness of sins" did hit a nerve with him. He replied with: "Well, why do you sin? You should not sin!" So, I got to say how we sin in thought, word and deed and attitude. That there is rarely such thing with us as true humility... He knew exactly what I meant, (unlike some Methodists on the internet).
He gave me a card with his name and number. He sells diamonds to jewelery stores. His name is, you guessed it, Mr. Singh. I won't be phoning him, though.
The last several weeks, of an on, I have joined the local townspeople attending the "Truth Project" at the local Alliance church. (Our Lutheran church is not local.)
It has been a very interesting and positive experience. There are a lot of people attending whom I have not seen in years, good friends even, who attend different churches. Also, I see many of our patients, again from different churches and walks of life. The discussion around the table is frank and good.
This is how is happened. There were big professional quality signs posted ahead of time along the highway. Then there was a professional quality flier in the mail. Then I ended up talking with two people who were thinking about going. Then I went to check it out.
Everything is very well organized and moves along at a tight schedule as people have babysitters, etc. Actually child care is also provided here, too.
At 7:00 pm there is a standing up food time. People bring things. And coffee, etc. Then we move into the main hall, where the round tables have been set up with table cloths and a candle. Then there is the viewing of the video lecture (ca. 1 hour). Then there is discussion time and prayer. Then there is a short "teaser video" to get you ready for next time. At 9:00 pm it's all done and you visit a bit with your townspeople if you have time and inclination.
The contents has been mostly ok, and I think most Christians would benefit from most of it.
There are several things that amaze me about this experience: the open discussion, the seeing of a diversity of local people in one place (and it's not a funeral), the hugs and reunions, and the willingness of people to sit through 1 hour lectures that are slightly demanding. Everyone helps out. The tables are organized into weeks for set-up and take-down, etc.
The other amazing thing is the growth of this Alliance church from non-existent (when we first moved into town a pastor was just starting to try and organize people), while our three not that far away Lutheran churches rather have seen decline in the same time period.
What's the conclusion? We could provide similar lecture series and congregational learning from a Lutheran perspective, maybe the catechism, or the reformation. As our institutions are not all very well funded and it is tough to maintain schools, provide enough catechesis, I'd like to see more work done at the congregational level. Media is so pervasive and can be used effectively with ease, these days. We must think about using it to save money, time, travel costs and provided resources at the local level.
We won't have money like the LDS to link everything via satellite. But we can develop distinctly lutheran resources that can be utilized locally. Would the pastors feel supplanted by this approach? It should be seen as a supplement and a way to broadbase the work load. As long as there is electricity, it should work.
"With credit harder to obtain, mortgage costs rising and unemployment growing in the United States, Europe and Japan, clever advertising may not be enough to persuade those who can still afford it to part with their money.
"In grim times it becomes distasteful or simply unfashionable to spend money on bling or what you might call conspicuous consumption," said Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman at advertising agency Ogilvy.
"There will be a trend toward Swedish, Lutheran-style minimalism," Sutherland predicted, referring to the modest, even austere, lifestyles favored by Lutherans and Swedes by reputation."
Still, I'm not sleeping very well, waking up too often, unsettled in the morning.
What came to me last night was that I've been often very harsh, not understanding, not indulging; although, I have to say, there have been many towards me that way, also. We all empathize so little.
Usually, this lack of understanding is focused on those who care the most and stick out their necks the most: parents, teachers, pastors.
As time goes on, I understand some things and some people better. As I become older and less strong and sharp in comparison to former years, maybe I can become more sympathetic. Well, I hope I can hang on to that, as aging gracefully would be a laudable goal.
I am sorry now for situations in which I have been too blind. Really sorry. In these troubled times, there grows a deep desire for reconciliation.
Just now I'm reading Bo Giertz's "The Hammer of God".
This is a review stolen from Amazon.ca. I think it's good.
THE HAMMER OF GOD [Original: STENGRUNDEN (1941)] has been rightly called "the best Law/Gospel narrative ever written" (The Rev. David Mulder, Director of Leadership Development for the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod). At the tender age of 36, and as an associate pastor in rural Småland, Sweden, Bo Harlad Giertz wrote a book which battles those forces which would seek to destroy historical Confessional Lutheranism then and now. Through the stories of three young pastors from different time-periods, he "earnestly contend[s] for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (p. 321, see Jude 3). As such, Giertz fights heterodoxy through three novellas and in three foms: neology (p. 40), New Evangelicalism/Pietism (pp. 147-148), and Liberalism (pp. 267-268). With Henric Schartau's (1757-1825) doctrine of the Order of Grace as the foundation (see the first novella, pp. 3-131 [especially pp. 116-117], as well as pp. 202ff., p. 267, p. 295, p. 334, etc.) and Augsburg Confession IV & V as the backbone, Giertz shows what it is to be a "rätt präst" ("true/right pastor"): one who is a believer himself, preaches the Gospel in its purity, and administers the sacraments according to the Lord's Word (Augsburg Confession VII). A "true pastor," standing firm in the time-tested Holy Word & Holy Liturgy of the Church (p. 201, pp. 210-211, p. 332), is equipped to care for souls by rightly dividing Law and Gospel (p. 124). To be such a pastor is the prayer of Pastor Torvik in the third novella (p. 335; an autobiographical character?) and should indeed be the prayer of every pastor. The theology of the book is summarized in a fantastic & powerful sermon (pp. 313-320) that every pastor could fruitfully borrow for some Sunday morning Divine Service ("gudstjänst"). Also, every pastor (and lay person) should read this stunning work regularly.
Mainly due to his writings, such as THE HAMMER OF GOD, Giertz went on to become the Bishop of the Göteborg Diocese (1949-70). Both due to his age and position, this was a shock: bishops were commonly selelcted from among Cathedral Deans and University Chairmen of Theology. He also became the leader of the Confessional movement in Sweden ("Kyrklig Samling Kring Bibel o. Bekännelse" ["Churchly Gathering Around Bible and Confession"]) and served as vice president of the Lutheran World Federation (1957-63).
Lately, I've been feeling stressed out. There are a variety of reasons, some of them pretty compelling, at least to me. It does take a toll on one's spirit. You wonder about a few things, when things hit you or others.
But I have to say that I do believe 1. in God, the Father, Creator (I have absolutely no doubt that macro-evolution is non-sense. Creation speaks. ). 2. in Christ (He is the best. His message is the best. His story is compelling. He is the only hope, anyhow. His love is what I need and am to share.) 3. the Holy Spirit (forgiveness of sins, communion of the saints; it's real and essential). So I believe in the triune God. I will decline and pass away, but he stays the same.
My younger sister witnessed to me today. Bless her. She put me on the hunt for a Paul Gerhard cassette, we used to have. Hope I can find it.
“What does this mean: I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver but with His holy precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.
THIS IS MOST CERTAINLY TRUE.”
And from Bror Ericksons's sermon: Collect: "Have mercy on us that with you as our Ruler and Guide we may pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal." Amen to that, too.
Where are the Propers in the LSB? I can't find them. We always get them printed out. Yesterday, I went to a Lutheran church that had no collect.
Das Wort sie sollen lassen stahn und kein' Dank dazu haben; er ist bei uns wohl auf dem Plan mit seinem Geist und Gaben. Nehmen sie den Leib, Gut, Ehr, Kind und Weib: lass fahren dahin, sie habens kein' Gewinn, das Reich muss uns doch bleiben.
She must be nearly one hundred. She is proud of having all her own teeth. She is on oxygen for her emphysema. She could barely breath, or sit back, or hear, or keep warm, or talk.
But she has this sense of humor. She was still trying to tell us jokes. She also thought she might "kick the bucket" before her next appointment. She was not sure she would see us again. Martin told her we would see each other in another place then. She said, yes, and her teeth won't need fixing.
I can't begin to write down the things that my subconscious works on these days when I sleep. I just know I get more and more uncomfortable the closer I get to the morning and I wake up with a knot in my stomach and no appetite for breakfast. No appetite is a highly unusual thing for me.
During the day, I'm ok, but tired, sometimes more distracted than usual. I miss the work I used to have. I miss the people I used to interact with. I am sorry we sold the business. But I'm ok. I read some psalms, I go to church, we listen to nice music and I'm uplifted. But my subconscious keeps churning at night.
I now understand Martin's grandmother Mueller in Poland. Aunt Gertrud writes: why did she leave the farm to flee the Russians with her nine children on a wagon at -30 without the benefits of going in an organized trek with her neighbors. Why did she leave so quickly and all by herself? (husband was away stopping tanks by digging ditches--Volkssturm, stupid work for defense purposes)
Panic. Adrenalin. Got to go or I'll burst.-- of course, she jumped the gun.
It does not mean you're not trusting the Lord. It means there is stuff you have to do, to work through, to change, to arrange, to run, to fix. The adrenalin was given for a purpose. Yet, even while the adrenalin is working you have to try to stay calm and sane. Even accept the adrenalin. Yes, I've got the adrenalin rush, the panic, but not now--you have to think--and pray.
The Chinese, currently, say this: let this situation heighten our sense of peril, so that we will act more appropriately.
I read something like that in the paper. Let it heighten our sense of peril, not let us relax and hope for the best.
As a Christian I also may have a heightened sense of peril, when there is peril. I am supposed to trust the Lord, but I also must let this sense of peril guide me into appropriate discussions and actions.
From our newspaper: "We eat more sugar and omega-6 fatty acids, and less vegetables and omega-3. Sixty per cent of out calories come from white flour, sugar and bad fats. There are studies that show increased omega-6 in blood is linked to higher risk of breast cancer.
Not surprisingly, exercise--or a lack of it--also contributes. Several studies, notably a recent French paper that tracked the health of school teachers over 30 years, show that as little as 30 minutes of exercise six times a week halves the relapse rate of breast cancer.
We know that exercise stimulates the immune system, which is key to keeping cancer cells at bay and stopping them from developing into tumors. Exercise reduces inflammation, which is the bed of cancer. it also reduces the overall fat stores, which is where all of the environmental contaminants are stored. So if you reduce the fat cells, you reduce your exposure to carcinogens. Obesity is one of the strongest risk factors for cancer. It combines all of these things.
And while the human body is designed to handle reactive stress, a recent study of 514 Australian women by the University of Sydney suggests that a combination of chronic stress and lack of social network is a serious risk factor."
A bunch of important information in this little quote. I should memorize the whole thing.
This week I rejoined Curves. They now have this computerized system to give you feedback as to how you are doing and how much more or less you are working than last time.
I set a goal of losing 20 lbs. That would really help. I'd also like to get up earlier and get the Curves done in the morning instead of pushing it in front of me all day. I'd still like to walk and do some of the interval training and functional exercises in the Revised South Beach book.