Thursday, December 31, 2009

House of my Fathers/Harrison/Walther

I have exactly 265 pages left (from page 212 to 477).

Reading Walther makes me think about how gentle and generous he is always trying to be, as much as is possible--unyielding as iron and gentle as a dove. We sometimes chafe that since the Gospel is the power, not we, we don't like to use the word "winsome". Since most of all the speech needs to be honest, authentic, humble, straight, un-syrupy..., we may forget that there is this gentleness that is very, very good and helpful. By God's grace the right combination always needs to be found.

He is also very descriptive but kind in introducing persons in his trip report. Maybe next time, we'll quote him on that several times.

This is how Walther corrects a Pastor Otteson, who had come up with some theses (now lost), presumably sounding too rigid and legalistic, regarding parish boundaries. Walther wrote a number of corrections hurriedly and he does not want to offend.

"It is quite right that you especially posit and claim Luke 10:16 and Matthew 18:15-17. But if you want to develop everything from that, then it gives the appearance that you are urging and pressing these passages in order to subvert all objections. Then your argumentation is somewhat brief, and the whole thing gets a legalistic taint. The mind is captured, but the heart easily remains unwilling and remains discontent and unconvinced [literally, "rattles in its cage"].

In my humble opinion, especially the following sentences need further exposition or development [and I am hereby providing it]. I obviously do not present these to you because I think your solid essay has to be reworked, but only to put before you my opinion in a very concrete way." (p. 156-157)

Then follow several pages of suggestions (corrections, mostly to make things more palatable, evangelical, for the congregation members).

Then he addresses himself again to Otteson.

"I implore you now, finally, that you would not see what I have written as proof of my hypercritical nature (Kritikasterei) or learned conceit (Besserwisserei), but as a demonstration that I happily desire at your request to serve you with what I have, poor wretch that I am. If you can find something therein which is usable, that will please me. Where not, still you will not be angry with me that I at least would acknowledge my good will to you. The matter is certainly important enough for everyone to come to a deeper understanding." p. 161

In the Post Script we see again, how unyielding he is:

"I note with distress what problems Pastor Clausen is causing. I must admit, as positive an impression as he made upon me personally, so problematic did the wobbly basis appear to me upon which his understanding appeared to stand. God will assist you, not only to remain steadfast in the truth, which is God's foolishness, in these times of improving civilization, but also see you through. In war, a few of the brave always fall.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Progress Report

Reading "At Home in the House of my Fathers." Started reading from the back, finished Pfotenhauer, Pieper and Schwan, in that order. Then went to the beginning. Finished Walther's trip report. (I am glad I did not start there. I might have got stuck in that report.) Only, like, 300 pages to go (500 down). Wyneken will be last. I feel I need to finish it before I read anything else. Excellent background.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Beautiful people

Our beautiful people are in Ontario. How are things?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Let us go to Bethlehem

"Lasst uns nun gehen gen Bethlehem und die Geschichte sehen, die uns der Herr kundgetan hat."

"Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."

Luke 2:15.

(My mother used to sing an ingenious lively little versicle with these words. I've never heard it from anyone else. I wonder where she got it.)

It makes me wonder that the Lord announced it first to the shepherds in the field. Our great Shepherd brought in those on the periphery first of all to see what salvation he had prepared for the lost sheep. Let us also go and see and behold and believe and spread the news to the more unlikely places. Lord bless us all.

Even in a year like this.

First page of two page Christmas letter. This was my fourth attempt. It was very hard to do. I wondered if it was necessary to write to people at all, in a year like this. Most people don't sent anything but a picture and a greeting, nowadays. But I've received some very special phone calls based on it, so I would recommend doing it
--even in a year like this.

What I've come to realize about Christians is this, there is a community that shares, indeed, there is. It shares all kinds of things. And anyone who does not care to be part of it, is really missing out.

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Rev. 21.

To All Our Dear Ones: Christmas 2009

We want to greet you with these words, at this time of year, because it is really good news that the dwelling place of God is with man, people like you and like me. It is most astounding. Imagine it. At Christmas, we celebrate the incarnation, that the Almighty God would deign to dwell with us as a poor human being , bearing everything we bear and more, dying and rising for our sins so we will be fit to live with him when we die or when returns to take us to his heaven. It is all most certainly true.
We also want to greet you with these words because it has been a very difficult year for us, as you know and as it has been undoubtedly for others. Our firm expectation of fulfillment of these words is our chief comfort. Our salvation in Christ is our deep joy, that remains when all else has to go. We know that everything will indeed be new. We already know the beginning of it. And we know that death is not the end. And we know that there can be no more sadness when we dwell with God.
Still, writing this letter is more difficult this year, because we cannot begin to tell you about the profoundness of our loss and grief over Stefan’s death, this year, and yet we should say something about it. Most people feel the same way when they are speaking with us. They want to say something and it is so hard for them. Most often a hug and a tear is what come out. Many, many people feel this loss very deeply, also. Some have sent us Bible verses, which was also helpful. And we should thank you again for all gestures of love, prayers, comfort and empathy, as well as practical help. The support was amazing and we are grateful for all the expressions of sympathy. You and the Lord know what you have done. Bless you for it. And may we all be strengthened in our faith even while facing these difficulties. It is good that we don’t travel this earthly path alone.
Martin and I have spent a good deal of more time with our Bible and hymnbook. We have been using CPH’s Treasury of Daily Prayer, which just came out this time last year, reading it aloud to each other in the evening. Reading out loud is really a different experience from reading it silently by yourself. I’d recommend it for a change. We’ve also got to know other resources. Receiving, buying and reading and passing on a number of different books as been a part of the journey and if you are at the receiving end of a devotion book this Christmas, don’t be offended, or if you’d like one let me know (I have some more. :) ). A deeper walk has really been a great blessing, an adventure, and renewal. We thank our triune God for bearing us up in this time. The Spirit does work through the Word and Sacrament, as we are promised.

The rest deals with personal details such as the upcoming wedding.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Notes from another "cool" weekend

Sundog over Fort Saskatchewan on Sunday morning. It wasn't THAT cold, but it's always hazy over the Fort due to industry.

1) Alright--on Friday we had a coming and going party of lots of young people some old people like us and one very old person. There were 16 of us at dinner time. We talked about who is all currently attending Concordia, (quite a few), whereas our dear senior person was also one of the original Concordians, several generations prior to the current one! Two of the young ones just took church music history together, one is going out with a pre-sem young man, one is doing a masters in Vancouver....

This is how I got them all to come: (of course, they are all kind people who share our loss this year and I am grateful for their company). BUT, I FINALLY figured out what Facebook is for. I did not have half of the contacts of the people I wanted to invite, so I sent them messages from friends' friends' lists! (Better learn late than never.)

2) There were opportunities to do a bunch more neat things, including going to German service at the Seminary. Dr. Zeuch has quite a facility in the German language and his sermon on the Magnificat I appreciated very much.

3) Then my local community choir went to one of the jails by Fort Saskatchewan and spent three hours walking between all the units and singing Christmas carols to and with inmates from the various units. The chaplains were with us and volunteers distributed Christmas goodie-bags to the prisoners in white lunch bags that had been decorated by school children. Quite a different experience. I don't want to describe all the details here. Some interesting volunteer work is being done in the jail, mostly by Roman Catholics, who, of course, knew people I know and, of course, knew about my son's death... and who had just lost someone else...

As we see again, the army of the bereaved is everywhere, as should be seen as natural seeing that we all die, yet, it does not strike us as natural at all. We do not feel like we should be taking such heavy losses.

Dr.Zeuch had talked in his sermon about the grieving at this time of year and he plainly said that we need to be grateful for what God has not taken from us...yet. That is a humble attitude, and we have no choice but to take it. Though we can't force neither gratitude nor humility, these circumstance do teach it to us. And there are blessings in this.

4) Read a neat thing about pain from C.S.Lewis this weekend, too (Preface to The Problem of Pain):

I must add,too, that the only purpose of the book is to solve the intellectual problem raised by suffering; for the far higher task of teaching fortitude and patience I was never fool enough to suppose myself qualified, nor have I anything to offer my readers except my conviction that when pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


These Pretzels are the nice big soft ones as bought from vending carts.

Party here tomorrow. Marilyn M. :) told me baking is so expensive. Well, this one is fun and cheap.

Make sure your yeast is not expired if you don't bake often. Checked mine. Good til June 2011. Hopefully that's reliable. The coarse salt is kind of needed. I forgot to find some.

2 cups hot water
1 package yeast (one tablespoon, 8 gr. is what the recipe says)
3/4 cup brown sugar
5 cups flour


form pretzels

lay in gently boiling basic solution for 30 sec. (made from 1 tablespoon baking soda per 1 cup of water)

put some rough, chunky salt on baking sheet, put pretzel on top.
Put some salt on top.

Bake at 475 Farenheit for about 12 min.

Serve warm with mustard and/or liversausage (and beer most likely).

Good fun for making with children.

December 17, 9:25

Finished my e-mail and blogging. Current view. Only -14 now.

December 17, 8:45

See my view this morning at 8:45. Soon the days will get longer. Only -15 today. Much, much better.

Also see nice things from this week. We went to wrap presents for Santa's Anonymous. First you design a present package from the bins (chose and age, sex, and three presents), package them well, and put in bins, etc.

Also see my kind neighbors dropping in bearing flowers and a gift.

I am reading the House of my Fathers. Finished Pfotenhauer and Pieper. Working my way backwards. Listening to John Patrick as I drive. Some of his talks are available online, too.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Alles ist an Gottes Segen"

Found the hymn on Youtube.

What my last post made me think afterward is, it is really my own fault I don't know the English verses any better. Time to put some mind to it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Breakfast hymn

A verse came to me over breakfast, not sung for a long time.

Alles ist an Gottes Segen und an seiner Gnad gelegen,
ueber alles Geld und Gut.
Wer auf Gott sein Hoffnung setzet,
der behaelt ganz unverletzet einen freien Heldenmut.
(352, not in "Gotteslob", 1676)

In LSB, #732

All depends on our possessing God's abundant grace and blessing,
though all earthly wealth depart.
They who trust with faith unshaken
by their God are not forsaken
And will keep a dauntless heart.

Close enough, I guess, but not the exact same meanings.

What I'm thinking about: why do these things come to me only in German, though I have lived here for over 31 years? I don't have any English hymn verses coming to me except Sunday School songs and table graces, and liturgy, and lines from the Messiah.

The closest hymn book verses coming to me are songs Pastor DeBlock used to have us sing often: "Built on the Rock, the church will stand, even though steeples are falling.", "On my heart imprint your image, precious Jesus..." and "Thy strong Word". Must have been his favorites. Maybe it's a good thing if the Pastor has his favorites sung all the time, then people know those.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

-37 degree, Sunday morning

Off to organ playing. See the picture at the current time. It would be smart to stay in bed.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Encouraging nascent organists

I offer here three insights into encouraging inexperienced pianists to become an organist for divine service. Obviously, they will need orientation on the instrument and practice. Besides this:

1. Help them to find their own resources by showing them websites where things can be ordered.

This week I spoke to someone who has been playing for years, but is still worried about the different settings in LSB (Lutheran Service Book). There are not enough organist liturgy books at church for each one to have one. I said, "buy one" She says: "Like where?"

Seriously, you can have it ordered from CPH in moments. However, it will take some time to reach these outer parts of the universe. Something could be done about that. I have even found a book with all the propers in it, that nobody knew about. So, there, you can practice to your hearts content and feel very comfortable with the music.

2. If they are not "real" organists, like myself, not comfortable with pedals, they can play just manually, forget the feet. It is really asking a lot to play with both hands, both feet. I have tried it. It exceeds my nervous system's capacity to coordinate things. More practice would do it. But how often can you get to church to practice. It is a big commitment for a newbie. Just play with your hands and pick enough bass stops to go with it, for now. People still praise my playing for exuberance. Pedals would be nice, but hey, we're doing what we can. I think it really important to play fast enough and comfortably enough. Don't play the organ morosely, slowly, too softly, though some songs obviously require different interpretations. Get into the hymn. Know it. Know what you are accompanying.

From Amazon, I bought a whole series of books with just manual music. I have so much repertoire now, it has taken the fright right out of having to play. There are so many beautiful pieces to play. I acquired the whole series by C.H. Trevor featuring Old English Organ music . I also bought a book edited by Trevor, that is not just English music. There is also a series of this. I just got the one so far. I have got so much music between my 10 or so books, I'm set. C.H. Trevor is my hero.

Now, I just need to know if CPH is coming out with a hymn prelude series for the LSB. Then I'll get that. Meanwhile, I don't do many special hymn preludes because I don't own any books. There is an older, very acceptable set at the church, owned by someone else. But just like the gal that sweats over the liturgy because she does not have her own book, the trick is: you need to get your own book. That's because many of us don't live close enought to church to just drop by to practice.

3. Get them to try playing just one hymn. See if your shy pianist can play just one hymn on one Sunday. Get them to work up some courage and facility. Work them in gradually. Being an organist is quite stressful and requires all your faculties. You have to be organized, practiced and confident. Until you have done it a number of times you will be sweating. This is normal.

Found the song I was looking for / ethical dilemmas

I found "Die Nacht ist vorgedrungen" by Jochen Klepper on YouTube, finally. There are several brand new uploads.

Now, someone tell me. I did not dare upload a nice recording I have, nor print out the English words, nor sing it myself and upload it, because the words are not in public domain. So, theoretically, I should not be posting this YouTube version either. ? Notice me not posting the English words again.

In English, Lutheran Service Book, #337,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Who won?

Have a look at Ezra Levant's post from several days ago on the current state or affairs relating to the Alberta Human Right's commission.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Just some notes on a nice weekend.

Someone dear visited us and brought us a big poinsettia! Thank you! XO!

On Saturday, I went Bethel to see/participate in their Family Advent afternoon. What they do is this: the Sunday school kids and the pre-school kids come in with their families to do Christmas/Advent "crafts". (I put "crafts" in quotation marks, because gluing and coloring and sticking on, are not technically "crafts" in my book; but everyone is busy, and things look great for hanging up, when done. Some of these words of God hang in homes for a long time, no matter how little skill went into them.)

The crafts come from the Oriental Trading Company, where everything is pre-cut, etc., minimal work required. This way an afternoon such as this is quickly organized and cleanly executed (other than getting the glue and paint off the tables afterward; paper underneath would work.) This can really be done any time of year, getting differently themed "crafts". Easter is the other time that this family craft afternoon is held.

Lots of families came in even with the bad weather. There also was coffee, a story and a video. All in all, it took about 2 hours and everyone was happy. I bought some of the left-over crafts to use in Bruderheim next Sunday, if we have kids.

I also went to see an elderly person had finally got the entire flight/refugee story straight. It is amazing how you can know a person for so long, but not have this kind of significant story in perspective. Live and learn. It's a slow process with us.

And, I went to the Sing Along Messiah at Concordia, which was mostly fabulous. One piece did not hang together. Oh, well. Lovely soloists. Great choir. Lots of men. (Many choirs don't have enough men.) Nice reception. See the gingerbread choir.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I'm going to cut out most of the blogging til the New Year. See some of the reasons in last post. Also I'm singing, and playing music a lot, and all women have a load of things to do at this time. I'll still read. Reading is easy. Do write and phone and come. Please, do.

Meanwhile, I'll leave you with my family's favorite cookie recipe; I've got some dough resting in the fridge: Teegebaeck.

500 gr of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
make a well,
in the well put
150 gr sugar
1 package vanilla sugar
2 eggs
mix the stuff in the well
cut over top: 300 gr of butter
mix all together,
put in fridge to cool

roll out and cut shapes.

We like to cut two sizes round shapes
and put jam in between.
Dust with icing sugar when serving.
See picture.

Blessed Advent and Christmas season. Much love.

11 months

It is December and we are headed towards ONE whole year. I am not even going to talk about it.

I don't even feel like blogging. I just want to clean my house.-- That is a miracle in itself. I should make the most of that. And I'm reading the "At Home in the House of my Fathers". (see couple of posts ago.)

We received an invitation for next week to go to a special memorial service next week for all who grieve, including a children's message. I've been asked several times if we are going, I guess, so people can go with us. This sort of thing just wears me out, but maybe...

I'd rather not. But maybe we should.

We'll discuss it once more.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Video by Rebecca Wasser Kissling/" From Worthless to Priceless"/Christ-centered sanctity of life

Yesterday, I reviewed Rebecca Wasser Kissling's pro-life video.

Rebecca was conceived through rape at knifepoint from a serial rapist. She was adopted by a Jewish family, and became a lawyer involved in family law. She reunited with her birth mother after she was 18 years old and developed relationships with this side of the family. At some point she learned the Gospel and became a Christian. Her mother had tried to obtain a back alley abortion, but in the end bad weather prevented the second try at arranging one. She is very glad and treasures her life. She seems to have become an untiring speaker.

There are many amazing points in this story. What I came away with most is that how difficult it was for someone like herself to feel loved and worthwhile. We all struggle with that. We all want that. The woman, usually, looking for an abortion wants that. But what is it like to consider that you were conceived through rape?

It would be hard to fathom. She has a DVD available for $15.00 titled "From Worthless to Priceless". I think it is an apt title. This is what I got out of the video as well (different title, you can borrow it from me, if you still have a VHS player).

From worthless to priceless!!! What gave her this transforming view of herself??? She will tell you it was the Gospel. The whole story in the end is Christ-centered.

It sounds to me that having grown up the way she did and not hearing the news in her Jewish home, when someone took her to an event with a clear Gospel message, she was amazed and received it at once. The fact that God loved her so much, that he died on the cross for her was what she needed to hear all along.

This does not totally surprise the rest of us, who also live by this story, but it is enlightening and a wonderful thing to hear. You will know who and whose you are when you realize that your creator paid an immeasurable price for you. ("You were bought at a price" 1. Cor.6:20)

P.S. This story connects for me,too,to yesterday's discussion on Cranach regarding the "Manhattan declaration". Bror writes that it is the work of Christ that lends the sanctity to life more than being created in the image of God. There is a good insight, there. It seems obvious, when you think about it. "But it does effect politics in that it does or should make Christian recognize the dignity of human life. Which is not founded so much in the creation of man and woman in God’s image, as it is in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ."