Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's About Time

It has been so long since I posted anything and why is that? Some sloth, some naval gazing, some musing on the future; all have managed to impede my being a little more faithful. Which of course becomes a bad pun on the blog title. Oh, well. I have finally decided to stay in the area for the next several years. I want to do a picture book on the local Umpqua Valley Wineries. They are very up and coming, deserving my best. I am planning to get a medium format film camera to assist in that endeavour. There are currently twenty-some wineries and more opening every year. The variety of wines is large, the climate is excellent, the soil is superb; in my opinion: the next Napa Valley.
Then, I would like to go to Europe for a year or two. I would probably go to a language school in Prague, Czech Republic, then stay and teach English for a year or two. Czechoslovakia is so beautiful. Largely untouched by the Second World War, many cities are still, at least in city center, very medieval. Another book? Mentioning teaching, I am reminded that I will be teaching a class on Liturgy beginning October 10. This is something I have been studying off and on for years, so I am probably over prepared and must strive to not be too pedantic.

Dave and Sabra Horn swept into our church family this weekend like a welcome rain on a summer's day. We are an older congregation and often fairly set in our ways. I have joked that I am the acolyte because, at sixty-two, I am the youngest. That is only a slight exaggeration. They were a revitalizing change. In some ways, Rev. Horn is our Pastor's protogee, and he was very much the proud parent. The Horns are traveling Lutheran missionaries and contemporary Christian musicians. His voice and style remind me of John Michael Talbot. Talbot is part of the Church of Rome, but I could easily live and work at Little Portion Hermitage. Magically, I seemed to know one of their songs, "No Angels," but why? Like deja vu all over again. (I just revisited his site and now know why I knew the song. I had listened to it about a month ago while researching him. It obviously made a deep impression, so much for deja vu.) I very much liked both of them, they have sweet spirits and much love for the Lord. I, too, love Jesus, but it never feels as if I manifest it very well or obviously. I often wonder if I am just playing church. I still feel called to ministry, but am such a bad example for others and so won't make that commitment. I still live in fear someone will discover the real me and, yet, I'm not even sure what that is. Sixty-two years old and still living in Catcher in the Rye. How ridiculous is that?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Time Has Passed

Wow! Three months since I last posted, the depression has long since lifted, I started smoking again, and I'm still broke. I was reminded of a pension I will be able to get soon, so relief is on the way. I have started to make plans for the future again. Naturally, all involve spending money. I am working some at the RV Park, which is taking up some time and knocking money off my rent. Enough of the blathering and on with the ranting.
I am very bothered by both the incivility and gullibility I am encountering. All our leaders are being subjected to demonetization, and as I think about it this goes back several years. Actually, when I think about elections and political cartoons of the 19Th century, it's absolutely old news. But, it is distressing. the gullibility manifests itself when we often rely on the Internet as a reliable source. Not that it often isn't reliable, but it is also a terrific disinformation and rumor platform. Yesterday, I was told that our current President is a Marxist, but then I was also told that his predecessor was a right wing fanatic. It is amazing that I live so serenely in a society with such violent political swings. This is told with much concern about end times. Unfortunately, I am much more inclined to think about current times and chalk up end times as an upcoming miracle. I should never allow myself to get sucked into these discussions, I just get upset and end up feeling guilty that I'm not quite Christian enough. Silly? Yes, but something to which I am susceptible.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Depression, Thy Name is Paul

There, I've said it, I am depressed, really bummed, in a state of ennui, blue, and wallowing in good old general all around self loathing. That tape that highlights all the bad decisions and lowlights of my life is running with Imax clarity. I can't even smoke. I quit several weeks ago and am now an ex-smoker with a lot of time on his hands and no cigarettes in them. I don't even want one that bad, it would just be something to do. Not that I don't have a million things I could be doing. This trailer that I huddle in is a disaster, but probably reflects my mental state: cluttered, unkept, full of bugs. there are so many jobs that I could do, but am not qualified for...the tape starts again.

I apply for a job which I know that I could do, but I don't have a place on their poorly designed form to tell them I could do the job. Truthfully, it's not really work, but lack of money. I have plenty of interests, but it's hard to do much with less than a dollar to your name, and did I mention the bugs:
The notorious box elder bugs. Right now they are out and about in a shamless buggy orgy, breeding like rabbits, if rabbits had wings and six legs. Far too many have managed to be inside and so I have become a bug transporter, often catching them and tossing the little guy out the door. I will admit to the occasional less than Ghandi/Schweitzer like grab and crush, but I have given many a second chance...more than they deserve

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Death in the Family

My sister died Friday, about 11:25 am. This was not unexpected, as she has been closer to death than most of us for some time,...and I don't know how I feel about it. I'm pleased that she will no longer be suffering, the bed confinement alone must have been agony. Plus there was very real physical pain, although she had many and powerful pain relievers...they helped make her loopy. The last time I talked with her, reality was more of a concept than what is usually agreed upon, but she knew I was there and peace was made.

Sometimes I wonder if I can make deep connects with anybody, I've felt so alone for such a very long time. I don't chase people away, at least not overtly, but I must wall them out. Otherwise why am I so devoid of feeling. Or the feelings that I do have seem to be only for me. I actually told someone today, "now I'm a real orphan, no parents and no siblings." How self-centered is that!
I continue to wonder about the ministery. I really don't seem to have a zeal for sharing the gospel. I love learning the doctrines, the theology, the history. I did very much enjoy leading the two Lenten services and felt comfortable doing so. I enjoy making the sick calls with Pastor Rehley. At this point, I have only said that I am willing if He wants me to serve in this capacity. So I don't really know what's next.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pagan Easter

I ran across this picture and had to use it, since the White House egg thing is upon us. This was taken in 1958, so these folks are almost as old as I am.

Christos Anesti! / Aleithos Anesti!


Glorious day it is, as I remember the resurrection of Jesus. This is the day the Western Church has chosen to celebrate as Easter. The first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. I'll have to find out how the Orthodox Church determines it, then I'll be complete. I am guilty of wanting to keep Jesus on the cross, since God is revealed so fully there, but that's only part of it. From this point on Jesus is the the revealed Christ to all who encounter Him. The old C. S. Lewis line, "either He is who He says He is or the greatest charlatan of all times." How must it have been for His followers. Sure they knew He was a great teacher and healer, and they thought Him the Messiah. But He was killed, decisively so. Even the most ardent believer would have had doubts, it's just too fantastical. When He reappeared the doubt was gone and what must that have been like. It really was Him. He really is the Christ!
I ran across this yesterday on a blog called Intersect and thought it needed to be here:

Resurrection Sunday.

Resurrect hope in the discouraged.

Resurrect freedom for the slave.

Resurrect healing for the estranged.

Resurrect dignity for the poor.

Resurrect belonging for the teenager.

Resurrect meaning for the homebound.

Resurrect purpose for wayward.

Resurrect significance for the small.

Resurrect love in marriages.

Resurrect communication between parents and children.

Resurrect forgiveness in the hurt.

Resurrect repentance in the proud.

Resurrect dependence in the self-sufficient.

Resurrect relief for pandemic diseases.

Resurrect home for the homeless.

Resurrect courage for the afraid.

Resurrect compassion to our neighbors.

Resurrect reconciliation between our races.

Resurrect peace in war-torn places.

Resurrect comfort for the hurting.

Resurrect reflection in our busy worlds.

It is possible…

He is risen.

He is risen, indeed!

In Christ

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Today is Holy Saturday, which means of course that yesterday we commemorated Good Friday. The church wore black to match the mood of Mark, chapter 15, which I read. We sang our last hymn in semi-darkness offset only by small imitation candles, Since the church was burned down less than ten years ago, fire fear still runs high and we tend to avoid open flames as much as possible.
What an awful and wonderful time, nothing more horrible and nothing more wonderful. God communicates with me at the foot of the cross and I want to run away and hide because I know my great sin. But God, through Jesus, makes me worthy to be a son in His sight. The best thing is that I have to do nothing for this, it is a gift freely given.
Easter tomorrow. Hallelujah! Cristos Anesti/Aleithos Anesti! I will be going in early to help other men to stage a breakfast starting at eight. I think that we have too many people involved, but that is okay and will try to stay in the background as much as possible. If I still smoked, I could use that as an excuse to disappear. It is now day three of the Great Smith Smokeout, and actually going well. need to put that behind me and I will. Now, off to the store to get supper victuals.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Maundy Thrusday

Today is Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday depending on your heritage. My rather narrow German Lutheran background calls for Maundy. It comes from Latin through Middle English and Old French. The Latin word is mandatum used in John 13:34: "A new commandment I give unto to you. That you have loved one another as I have loved you". Many churches do ritual foot washings this day. We Saint Johnians will do a sort of Passover Seder and a worship service. No dirty feet here! I just finished making matzohs for this evening, no mean feat in my little trailer. Of course, the Jews in Egypt had some hurdles of their own to overcome.

Today is the day that I will quit smoking tobacco, I will still smoke meats and things when I can. Smoking has haunted me for years. It has always made me feel less than I could be. Stupid, I know, but I think it has often separated me from the Lord. It's that example thing and has hung me up for years. Or, maybe I have used it as a convenient excuse. I have decided that if I am to go forward in my service to God, I must put it behind me. How many years? Forty-nine, a lot more than I have left. I need prayer more than ever. I am told that the physical craving goes away in a short time. Maybe I'll put on weight, a little wouldn't hurt.
Soli Deo Gloria!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday. What a time, a time to both cheer and cry. I find myself first with the those welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem, hailing him as Messiah. Secondly, I find myself dreading what is to come: a horrific death. But mostly, today is a time of great anticipation, the hosannas, the palm strewn roadways, the giddy hopes of a liberator arriving. It's not fair, really, I know the story, what will happen and so my celebration is less than robust. I would do well to live more in the moment. Too much energy is spent looking forward or backward, and not enough time in the moment.

Yesterday, was a wonderful day for moments. I went with Pastor Rehley to visit my sister in the hospital. I haven't seen her for some time. I think I've been angry with her bacause she is sick, because she is so visibly dying and when that happens my birth relatives are gone. How selfish I am! Seeing her was a moment that made me realize just how selfish. She needs me now and so often I haven't been there. I hope to change that.

After seeing Sue, we stopped to visit two others in care. It makesme wonder if that is to be my role. If I became the vicar here and later the pastor, would I be the one visiting the people I worship with today. They are for the most part older than I and in ten or fifteen years will be in nursing homes. Will I be the one carrying church news, issuing the sacraments, praying over them.

Then, we also visited a teenage girl who wants to be baptized. She has agreed to be welcomed into God's kingdom on Easter Sunday. It was a day of beginnings and endings and endings and beginnings. A young lady will be ending one life and beginning another. The seniors are soon to begin a new life and end another. That God has allowed me to see all this is fairly amazing and contributes to my feelings of not being up to the job. Oddly, I am drawn to it like a moth to a flame.

Well, then off to shout hosanna and collect my palm.

In Christ!

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Externally Barren Mind

I am beginning to wonder how long that I can keep this up. This being a attitude of contentment while mostly doing nothing but existing. I get up, pray, listen to the news, study some via the seminary, do the coffee thing at the clubhouse, listen to music and smoke way too much. I have little intercourse with actual people. I didn't realize how much of my social interaction was satisfied by working. Even though I have slightly considered going into a monastery, I wonder if I could endure the silence. Actually, I think what it is, I do nothing. I'm in this trailer day in day out and not really accomplishing anything. But is that really necessary, the accomplishing. I don't know. I need to ask God for help and guidance.
I have been putting some photographs up on flikr. I like this one a lot and have added it here. It was taken on a trip to Boise on one of my many job searches. The original is in color, but it is much nicer in black and white seeming to have a full range of the grey scale. In some ways it is a good representation of my current state of mind: kind of barren, but looking ahead.
In Christ!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I've Done It Now

Recently, I stumbled across the Special Ministery Program of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. I did some research on it with Steve in mind. He has a great heart and I think the right stuff to make a good pastor. Anyway, I mentioned this to my pastor, James Rehley, thinking he might want to check it out. He did and thought I would also be a good candidate, and should think about it. So, after several weeks of soul searching, I have haltingly said yes. I will go ahead on the principle that the Lord will open and close doors. As long as they are open, I will go forward. I hesitate so much because I have a less than stellar history, more like glaring one. Twice divorced, several DUI's, not typical dog collar material. I guess, though, it could help that I have survived all that with a stronger faith than ever. If anyone needs salvation, I do. Of course, I think we all do. If God gave, even the best of us, our just desserts, we'd all be toast. I do spend far too much time in "bad decisions I have made" mode...way unproductive. Back to the doors thing.

Friday, March 13, 2009

God Didn't Strike Me Down

I survived. The Wednesday night service went well. I wish the attendence had been better, but that is very much out of my hands. I ended up providing a pot of black beans & ham for our pre-service dinner. (I recently got Food Stamps and feel like the King of Food.) I started the beans Tuesday evening and finished them Wednesday in time to have a bowl for lunch. When I arrived at church I learned no one had signed up to provide food, so I was able to do so. God works in mysterious ways.
Discovered a Lutheran Rosary recently, although I think the old Daily Office is just as good. I do love Luther's morning and evening prayers and wish we would teach them more.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Back Again

I'm finally back. The first post since December, but I can't beat myself up about that. I feel pretty good actually, considering. I was finally layed off the first weekend in business. I am not able to collect unemployment, because of working under the table. No one to blame but myself. But, a most important but, I am not all that depressed. I think that I am finally getting it. It being St. Paul's "the peace that passes all understanding." Peace in times both good and bad, so that is good.
Today is the third Wednesday in Lent and tonight I am leading our Lenten service. I worry so much that I am all style and no substance, whether I will rely on my performance skills to sell the message, rather than something more heartfelt. It is something that I wrestle with, often. The only training that I formally received taught me how to perform and how to read books. As long as what I am doing is to the glory of God, I think that I'm alright. Many modern American Christians don't observe Lent. I don't know why, perhaps it is too Roman Catholic. Historically, the church has observed a type of Lent since the middle of the second century. (That we know of.) So, it would seem to me that it has a long and tolerably honorable history. Anyway, I am glad that we observe it it, to prepare and remind us of the upcoming passion. It is, after all, the defining moment of Christianity, the fulfilment of a promise given way back in Genesis 3. It's why I still like my crosses to be complete with the corpus, i.e. a true crucifix. Although some feel the resurrection is the seminal moment, but I have always felt it was the sacrifice that redeemed me, not the rising.
Wish me grace, tonight.
Sole Deus gloria!