Happy 2016!

Happy New Year!  This is the day we look forward and contemplate the year ahead, making resolutions about the changes we’d like to make and planning for the future.

Along with the custom of making New Year’s resolutions is the custom of saying that they are futile, what with the bondage of the will and everything.  But we don’t have to invest them with big moral significance, nor turn them into grandiose self-improvement exercises with little chance of lasting.  Changes happen over the course of the year, and we might as well direct a few of them. [Read more…]

The third generation

For one millisecond somehow caught on camera, everyone was looking into the camera (except for the shepherd).

 

 

 

A sense of place

Paul Greenberg is an acclaimed nationally-syndicated columnist who has spent most of his life and career in small town Arkansas.  A recent column deals with a quality we have been hearing more about lately from the localist movement (see, for example, the Front Porch Republic); namely, “a sense of place.”  He says of those who do not have this connectedness to a specific land and community, “they inspire a certain pity, the way anyone homeless does.” (Excerpt and link after the jump.)

What he is describing is exactly what I am experiencing, now that we have moved back to our native Oklahoma. [Read more…]

Liveblogging the debate, the World Series, and the Thunder game

OK, friends, here we go.  As I said, I would be multi-tasking, so I’ll depend on you for your commentary on the Republican debate.  I plan to watch that, but also the World Series, and also (good Oklahoma citizen that I am becoming) the Thunder game.  I might even comment on all three, if I have something to say.  Feel free to do the same, if you are similarly torn in your attention span.

How God preserves His church

We were on our own for several days in Copenhagen, so on Sunday we attended a service of the Church of Denmark.  Gabriel had invited us to a congregation in fellowship with the LCMS, but the service was at 4:30 p.m., and we had to meet up with our hosts around then.  We had earlier come across a magnificent church (“the Marble Church”) near the palace (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are all constitutional monarchies, like England).  We thought we would go to a service there.  So we set forth from our hotel for a trek of probably just over a mile or so.

When we saw it as tourists, we saw a sign that the building would be closed to the public during services, so we hoped that they would let us in.  We were graciously received by the usher.  There was a far bigger crowd than I was expecting, around 100 people.   We were given an English translation of the liturgy.  We could have probably followed it without the translation, since it was the basic service that we had in the United States.  The tunes of the hymns were some of the same that we sing.

There were certainly differences.  Pastors there wear a black gown with a cool 17th-century-style ruff.  There was no offering, since the government and church taxes support the churches financially.  (They did have a box that you could put coins in as you leave, which I think is an ancient practice, before the advent of pews and passing the plate.)  They also had no confession and absolution.  (I was told later that liberal congregations tend to leave out that part of the service, while conservative congregations retain it.  Later, in Norway, we went to an Inner Mission service, which did include the confession of sins, though not an absolution from the pastor.)  [Read more…]

When I’m 64

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