Sunday, June 27, 2010


We are on vacation!!! Larry and I are enjoying some time off, with no specific agenda. We flew to Maine on Friday, June 25th, to see Larry's daughter, Sheila, and his grandson, Daniel, who live in Milo, Maine. We did not see them until Saturday morning - we needed the rest on Friday night. It has been wonderful.

We went to an auction on Saturday. The Kiwanis Club in Milo puts on an auction every year, the proceeds of which go to pay for children's programs in Milo and Brownville. The whole community turns out! We got there early so that we could get seats. It is a good thing, too! It has been a long time since I have been to an auction. We all walked around, looking at what would be auctioned when we first got there. There were a lot of things that I don't think I would have put on for sale, but then there were some really cute things. Sheila bought a great wooden plant stand, a pair of solid wood chairs (very comfortable, I might add!), and a telephone chair. We are going to clean in up and it should be ready to use.

We had dinner at the Hobnobber's Pub that evening. The place was nicely done up and the food was all homemade. Ummm ummm. It was delicious! I am glad we found it. Sheila said she had never been there before so we all had a good time.

Today we went to visit some friends of Sheila's on Schoodic Lake. Yup, that is the real name. It is quite large. All spring fed, with VERY cold water. Brian took Larry, Daniel, and his own daughter out on the boat to check out the lake. Tammy (Brian's wife), their daughter, Emily, as well as Sheila and I stayed back at the cabin to make dinner. I guess the burgers were absolutely delicious. Tammy had made some blueberry pound cake that was simply out of this world. Tomorrow we get to go fishing from the bridge over the river in the middle of town. Should be fun!

And now, it is way past time for bed so I guess I will check in to go to sleep. I hope all of you are having a restful summer. The whole idea of vacation is to vacate the things you are usually doing. We are sure doing that! It is working out just fine. Thursday (July 1) we travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I hope we can continue to 'vacate' our usual things!

(This is Daniel in the pool at our hotel on Tuesday, June 29th)


Well, it has been a few days since I have written anything. I neglected to take any pictures of the church - it was amazingly beautiful.

Those of us who were there were fortunate to meet so man y other musicians and pastors. Several of the musicians in attendance were also composers whose work I knew. It was just great to meet them and get their thoughts on the event as well as on the whole idea of worship renewal. It is a pretty broad topic, when you begin to think about it.

We had so many worship services in those few days - I think there were 3 each on Tuesday and Wednesday and 2 more on Thursday morning. It was good to try different things with hymns, to hear the proclamation of the Word from pastors of varying backgrounds, to have different organists or pianists for each service. Then we met in our small groups to talk about worship. Any and every item in worship was up for discussion. It was interesting to hear what things were important to the pastors as opposed to what was important to the musicians. You may or may not know that there is a running joke in the Lutheran church about the way pastors and musicians get along - they just don't! After listening to discussion, it would be easy to believe that pastors and musicians are 2 completely different kinds of people and that the 2 could never mix. Fortunately, that is not really true.

I took a shuttle to George Bush International Airport at 1:25 pm. We flew out at 4 pm to Dallas, where we were due to leave at 7 pm for Sioux Falls. Due to weather, the flight was delayed. Then it was delayed even more because we had to wait for a flight attendant to come in from Mexico. They announced that she had arrived in Dallas but it took a half hour for her to get to the gate. I think the dissatisfaction rate climbed really high.... We finally left at 10:26 pm, arriving back in Sioux Falls at 12:30 am. Whew! It was good to be back.

My team partners - Rev. Steve Palo and Rev. Bill Tesch - and I did some planning as to how we would carry out what churchwide is wanting us to do. Steve and I will be making a presentation to the Synod Council in August. While we are working on that, we will also be working with the planning team for the Fall Conference for pastors. After that, it will just depend on what the pastors think. We will try to have a "presence" on the synod website. We are also going to try to set up a group where we can have interaction with pastors and musicians regarding any worship questions they may have. So for right now, the job is not too big - but I may just be kidding myself. A wonderful thing is that Steve and I feel much the same way about many things in worship, which is helpful. And we are well-supported by synod staff - most notably Bill Tesch and our bishop, Dave Zellmer.

So now it is just to get going - write down what we think happened in Houston, prepare a concise report, and work with the fall conference planning people. Wish us well!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Evening Prayer

We had Texas barbecue for supper tonight. It smelled wonderful! After having a rather raucous rainshower during the afternoon, it was nice to be able to eat out in the courtyard. The combination of sight, smell, and sound was unbelievable! It was a feast everywhere you looked. People were talking to people they had just met, to people they knew, to people with whom they found a commonality. After just having shared in the feast of communion, we were now sharing bread in another way.

After eating, I went inside and sat on a bench in a busy hallway. I was observing people. Some would come by with heads down, avoiding any contact. Some would nod their head in greeting. Some would smile and say hello. And a few actually stopped to talk. Of course we first had to find out where the other person was from (we knew names because we are all wearing nametags!!) But then the talk was all about worship. What classes did we attend today, did we learn anything new, what did you think of the worship services. It made me kind of wish that as a congregation we could gather after worship and talk about what we had just heard and done.

And then the bells in the bell tower chimed. These are REAL bells – big ones, that ring out so the whole world can hear. The tradition at this church is that the bells ring right before and right after every worship service.

Back to the nave we went. I love the service of evening prayer. It is such a wonderful way to end the day. This service started in a new way for me: we were invited to light a candle from the “altar” candle (more about that tomorrow) and then go to wherever we were seated to light a votive candle that was in front of a picture of Christ. I think that for some of you that may smack a little too close to Roman Catholicism. I sat for a bit, thinking that very thing. But as I watched other people do it, I could see on their faces that something changed for them. So I got up and lit a candle and then lit the votive – and then I understood. The opening words to the service of Evening Prayer are:

Jesus Christ, you are the light of the world.

And the people respond:

the light no darkness can overcome.

And that was what had just happened. I had lit the candle as a reminder and as a visible image of the Light of the World. It was very moving.

When the last people had lit the candles, out of the midst of us came the words above. We were all the leaders; we were all the responders. The group was small – 50 or so. But we were reminded that Jesus Christ is the light of the world. That the worship of the powerful presence of the risen Christ is a fitting way to end the day. The singing was almost entirely a cappella (without accompaniment) and was gorgeous. The service ended with the sharing of the peace. What a way to end the day!

Check it out in the front of the hymnal some week before worship begins – it begins on p. 320 in the ELW.

Goin' back to Houston, Houston...

What am I saying? I have never been to Houston before! We arrived last evening to 95 degree weather. But every place is air conditioned – some almost too cold, so a sweater or whatever is a must. But what hospitality! Everywhere you go.

Here I am at Partners in Evangelical Worship (PEWs) training. There are about 200 of us here at Christ the King Lutheran Church. It is a beautiful space, with lots of stone and lots of wood. The sanctuary just begs for people to sing. Even an unamplified voice can be heard clearly. So being gathered in a place with 199 musicians and pastors – well, you cannot imagine the sound! It is glorious to be in a place where everyone is gathered with one thing in mind – worshiping God. For those of us who lead worship week after week, it is a pleasant and re-freshing and re-vitalizing time, to worship the Lord with nothing else on our minds. As we were reflecting on our experience at the service of Holy Communion this afternoon, all those in my group (6 other people) expressed this feeling of being in the presence of God; that the Holy Spirit was at work; and that it was SO nice to be able to truly worship.

So it made me wonder what worship is like for those of you at home. What is your attiutude when you come to worship? Is it something you do because that is what you always do on Saturday night or Sunday morning? Or do you come expecting to feel the presence of God in church? Do you come prepared to worship, to participate in worship, to do the liturgy, which is, after all, the work of the people.

I wonder what would happen if each of us came to worship with a sense of awe and wonder, with a sense of excitement at meeting the Lord in this very place?

In my mind, I hear each voice singing praise to our God. I hear each voice speaking the words that we all speak week after week, but really thinking about their meaning so as to enable us to speak in a new way about our encounter with the living Christ in that very moment. I see a revitalized community, gathered in the name of Christ, with the very light of God on our faces. And I see us moving out into our greater community, glad to share the Good News with one and all, glad to love each person just as they are, glad to take a risk and reach out to others we meet.

Can you imagine what would happen in the world if every Christian did that?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A New Beginning

Well, I just realized that I could not remember how to get into my other blog so this is a new one. Memory is fickle as we get older.... :)

Life is quite amazing. As we age, it seems that some things just aren't the way they were before. Are we supposed to just sit back and let that happen? I don't know - I guess in some ways we just have to, yet there are things we can do. I won't go into what I think those things are, mostly because I'm not doing them either! The thing is, I sure would like to somehow be younger - more able is what I am thinking - but still have the knowledge I now have. I suppose that is not going to happen. Oh well, I will still look forward to all that is to come.

Do you ever think about getting older? Is it a good thing, bad thing, neutral thing? I have even heard some people say they were afraid of getting older! I suppose that maybe they were afraid of getting some of the diseases that are more common for older people. I think there is a lot to say for genetics, as to whether or not we might be prone to any of those diseases. I have told my brothers that we really have it made - we have dementia on both sides of our family, a couple of our mom's sisters have Alzheimer's; our dad has Parkinson's disease; and then there is arthritis and things like that. However, I am not really afraid. I will most certainly live my life to its fullest.

I hope you do too. I know that with the help of Christ, we can all live lives that make a difference - and that we can be the best people possible. Thanks be to God!