Monday, December 31, 2007

optimism in the New Year

I pray that each of you may receive an abundance of God's blessings and grace in the coming year.

The essence of optimism is that it takes no account of the present,
but it is a source of inspiration,
of vitality and hope where others have resigned;
it enables a man to hold his head high,
to claim the future for himself
and not to abandon it to his enemy.
-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sunday, December 30, 2007


It is at this time of the year in particular that we think about what the future may hold for us. Are we like the rabbi in the following anecdote?

A rabbi was present at the creation. After the sixth day, when the Lord was resting, he looked at his handiwork and turned to the rabbi and asked, "Well, Rabbi, what do you think? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?" The rabbi hesitated, frowned deeply, shook his head and clucked his tongue and finally said to the Lord, "Well, I'm optimistic."
And the Lord, in surprise, said, "Well, if you're optimistic, why are you frowning?"
And the rabbi said, "I'm frowning because I believe my optimism is unjustified."

-- Herman Kahn

Saturday, December 29, 2007

coming of light

All-powerful and unseen God, the coming of your light into our world has made the darkness vanish. Teach us to proclaim the birth of your Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, December 28, 2007


Christmas is a time when you get homesick – even when you’re home.
-- Carol Nelson

Thursday, December 27, 2007

our treasure in clay jars

For it is the God who said,

"Let light shine out of darkness,"
who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in clay jars,
so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.

-- 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Silent Night

I've come to the conclusion that the only silent night of the year is the evening of Christmas Day.
All of the stores are closed -- virtually no traffic on the streets -- no church services.

Even the "snow emergency" was in hiatus until the day after.
The streets were not plowed -- I only got stuck once.

The only activity to be seen was in the homes that were lit up.
Kids playing with their new toys -- adults looking for leftovers from dinner -- dogs outside enjoying the new snow.
I wish we had more evenings like this when the world briefly shuts down.
These are the times that call for thought and reflection on the past year -- anticipation of the new.
We need more of these times of rest.

Turn back, my soul, to your rest
for the LORD has been good,
and has kept my soul from death,
(my eyes from tears,)
my feet from stumbling.
-- Psalm 116 (Grail)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Eve at Cross of Glory

One of the neat things about attending the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service last night at Cross of Glory Lutheran Church in Mounds View was that each of our bulletins had an original drawing on top by one of the young people in the church. Above is the one I received. Thank you Britta!
The Baby Jesus is what Christmas is all about!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

so little has changed

I came across this video from several years ago; I'm sure very little has changed.
Let us remember our service men & women and their families in our prayers.

Now is the time.

The best expression of love is time. The best time to love is now.
-- Rick Warren

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sunday School Christmas program - 3

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sunday School Christmas program - 2

(more to follow)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sunday School Christmas program - 1

The one event that gets me in the Christmas mood every year is the annual Sunday School program.
These pictures are from last Sunday at St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minnesota.

(more to follow)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Why is the baby crying
On this, his special day,
When we have brought him lovely gifts
And laid them on the hay?

He’s crying for the people
Who greet this day with dread
Because somebody dear to them
Is far away or dead,

For all the men and women
Whose love affairs went wrong,
Who try their best at merriment
When Christmas comes along,

For separated parents
Whose turn it is to grieve
While children hang their stockings up
Elsewhere on Christmas Eve,

For everyone whose burden
Carried through the year,
Is heavier at Christmastime,
The season of good cheer.

That’s why the baby’s crying
There in the cattle stall:
He’s crying for those people.
He’s crying for them all.

-- Wendy Cope

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Whom do we need?

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.
--Henri Nouwen

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Advent prayer

Almighty God, you command us to prepare the way for Christ our Lord.
Grant that we may not grow tired and weak
but be kept strong by your healing presence.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.


Friday, December 14, 2007


I go about it as I think everyone should go about it. I look to God and let him love me. Prayer is God's business, not everyone's business. That's where mistakes are made: people think they're responsible. Just be quiet and let God draw you into his peace.
-- Sister Wendy

Thursday, December 13, 2007

the church, infallibility & God

I believe in loyalty. We should respect our church, but never believe that the church has the last word. The church is saying "this", but I believe that sooner or later "this" will change. "This" is not the mind of our Lord. God is all love. It's a delicate balancing thing. The Church has changed its position over the years, and because the spirit is with the Church, in the end the Church will always get it right. But in the end. The spirit of the Church is the meaning of love, which hasn't yet, perhaps, been fully understood.
-- Sister Wendy

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

the pressures of Christmas

Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas Math

Each year about this time I feel my anxiety level rising as I worry about the Christmas gifts I want to get for friends & family. What to get? -- when to find time for shopping? -- who am I forgetting? The following by Meg Cox helped slow down my racing thoughts -- maybe it will help you:

At this time of year, like many of you, I start to cringe at all the fake cheer. I feel that if I see one more over-decorated store, I will choke. Most of these stores are filled with poorly made goods that nobody needs and the very air feels clogged with tinsel.
I want to run away to a clean room with a decorated tree and a pine-scented candle on the mantelpiece. I want to sit in a cozy armchair and read a good book to my kid while we drink cocoa.
Then, it will feel like Christmas.
Don't add more to your to-do list this year. Subtract anything you can if it makes you feel dis-spirited. Only add activities if they make it feel more like Christmas to you!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

works & faith

One of my favorite passages in Scripture is that famous line in James that faith without works is dead. But I have concluded that works without faith is just too hard.
-- Hillary Clinton

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

before & after

The knowledge that Jesus came to dress our mortal bodies with immortality must help us develop an inner desire to be born to a new eternal life with him and encourage us to find ways to prepare for it.

It is important to nurture constantly the life of the Spirit of Jesus - which is the eternal life - that is already in us. Baptism gave us this life, the Eucharist maintains it, and our many spiritual practices - such as prayer, meditation, spiritual reading, and spiritual guidance - can help us to deepen and solidify it. The sacramental life and life with the Word of God gradually make us ready to let go of our mortal bodies and receive the mantle of immortality. Thus death is not the enemy who puts an end to everything but the friend who takes us by the hand and leads us into the Kingdom of eternal love.

-- Henri Nouwen Society

Monday, December 03, 2007


It is easy for those of us seeking God to get discouraged. We ask ourselves questions -- Where are you, God? -- Am I on the right path? -- Why have I not found you? Let us not be dismayed! The Lord has made special provision for those who seek him.

The Lord will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in good times and in bad.
Let them put their hope in you, those who know your name;
for you, Lord, have never abandoned those who seek you.
-- Psalm 9

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