Saturday mornings

 

Becky and I have developed nice Saturday morning habit the last couple of weeks.  We first drive over to see Adam in Northview village.  As we passed Barnes-Jewish – Children’s hospital, Becky commented, “This is like a race track.”  Three lanes of traffic in a seeming drag race hoping to hit green lights. Then past some old stately homes, numerous large churches and the out- of -our -price -range Chase Park Plaza.   Crossing Delmar, we enter another world of boarded up buildings, no banks, but cash checking businesses nor much for grocery stores, the only restaurants are Popeyes and Church’s; there are plenty of beauty supply stores, auto parts stores and AME churches.  North of Martin Luther King Dr., Kingshighway becomes a grass and tree filled divided boulevard.  A few more blocks and we pull into the parking lot, of a former hospital, we sign in and then wait for the creaking elevator to arrive.  We punch in the code for the 3rd floor and go to visit Adam.   And there we find our son, well cared for and safe in an unexpected place.

And then we retrace our route, take Hwy 40 over the River, stopping at the Golden Corral at Collinsville for brunch, we eat high on the hog. With stomachs filled we travel up 157 to Meridian Village to visit Jeanette in her waning days.  What a surprise when we see Karen Shimkus visiting her mother.  It’s been too long since we’ve seen her.

Saturday mornings, traveling through multiple worlds and finding surprises.

 

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The Secret of Beautiful Feet

 

I don’t suppose the secret of beautiful feet is much on our minds this Christmas night, but it was on the mind of Isaiah in the Old Testament lesson for Christmas morning.   It has nothing to do with pedicures or lotions to heal dried and cracked skin.

Isaiah tells us in 52:7, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the one who brings good news.  Who brings the good news announcing salvation, and tells Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’”

Those shepherds who left their flocks that night and went to Bethlehem to check out what the Lord was doing had beautiful feet.  They told Mary and Joseph about their experience with the angels and all who heard the shepherd’s news were amazed.  Callouses and all those shepherds had beautiful feet.

When Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the temple when He was about six weeks old, 84-year-old Anna appeared.  She showed she had beautiful feet as she spoke about Jesus to all waiting for Jerusalem to be set free.

Play pediatrist this evening.  How do your feet look? Are they beautiful?

Thank God for sending the barefoot king in the manger.  His feet are beautiful, and he will make ours to be like his.

Quatrains for Advent four

 

There was a young maiden named Mary

Who was readying her trousseau to marry

But an angel said, “The Gospel you’ll carry”

Who will deliver from sin and make us merry.

 

This young maiden had no time to waste

She packed her bag and left in all haste

Setting out walking at a furious pace

Her womb ever stretching with God’s Grace.

 

When old Elizabeth opened her front door

She welcomed and blessed her blessed visitors

For young maiden Mary was to be progenitor

Of the One who would be our Savior.

 

Then young maiden Mary sang extolly

Of God, who lifts the low and lowly

And through their Son Jesus solely

remakes us whole and holy.

First Christmas Memories at age 5 & 6

 

When I was 5, in 1946 I was seated in the front row with future classmates Russell Wangzong and Vernon Strenke for the Christmas program at Happy Corners school.  Following the program there arose bellowing, “ho, ho, ho,” from the back of the room.  There, walking right toward us was a black booted, black belted monster dressed in red and white. I dove to the floor and crawled among the over-shoed feet of school district parents until I was safely in Dad’s lap in the opposite corner of the room.  I don’t remember ever believing in Santa Claus.

“All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth,” was a popular song in 1947, the year of my first grade.  Since I had lost my two front teeth that autumn, Mrs. Anderson, chose that song as my first solo.  She must have heard me singing as we listened to the Wisconsin School of the Air. However, by December, my permanent front teeth had grown in.  I sang my solo, though I had to fake lisping “thithle and “Chrithmath.  I didn’t have to fake not being able to whistle.  Never have been able to whistle.  I did discover the joy of performing in public.

That year I also discovered the perils of public performance at the Christ Eve program at our Pipe Lake Church.  As I launched into reciting my piece about peace on earth and good brought by Jesus’ birth, my older brother Laurin whispered for me to come sit down.  I was confused.  What was wrong? When I was seated Laurin informed me that I was reciting my piece about Santa Claus from the program at Happy Corners.  In the balcony, mom, who played the old pump organ, nearly leaped over the railing.  Pastor Walter Braem seated in a little partitioned area to the side of the chancel took it in with good humor.  This was probably the first excitement at a Christmas program for many a year.  Eventually, I went back up and told the folk the good news of Jesus come to earth to save us all from our sins.  I was glad when I was confirmed at age 13 and no longer had to worry about reciting the wrong piece.

60 years later I was visiting Dad in the nursing home, when Bob Berglund came to visit his brother.  “Oh yes, you said the wrong piece at the church Christmas program.”

O Dayspring

 

December 21, O Dayspring, splendor of light everlasting: Come enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

The antiphon is fitting for this shortest day of the year, when we look forward to the lengthening of days.  Think of being in Barrow, Alaska where the sun set in late November and won’t rise until well into next year.

Today’s name for Jesus, is “Dayspring,” a poetic word for Dawn.  However, its not a biblical term.  That impelled me search out my Latin dictionary.

This is my own unpoetic literal translation.

Come, come, O East!

Come, sun, drive out the night’s shade

And burst asunder our darkness.

 

Centuries prior to the writing of the O Antiphons, Clement of Alexandria penned fitting comments:

“As the sun illuminates not only the heaven and the whole world, shining on both land and sea, but also sends rays through windows and small chinks into the furthest recesses of a house, so the Word, poured out everywhere, beholds the small actions of our life.”

Jeremiah Ingalls wrote in the 18th century:

“How long, dear Savior, O how long

Shall this bright hour delay? Fly swifter round the

Wheel of time,

And bring the welcome day.”

O Key of David

 

O Key of David and scepter of the house of Israel, You open and no one can close, You close and no one can open.  Come and rescue the prisoners who are in darkness and the shadow of death.

Isaiah 22:22, “And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David.  He shall open, and none shall shut, and none shall open.” In the time of the prophet Isaiah, Shebna, the manager of the king’s affairs, commissioned for himself an ornate tomb carved out of the rock.  However, Isaiah says, the Lord will “whirl you around and around and throw you like a ball.” Shebna will eventually die in exile.  Instead, Eliakim, the Lord’s servant will become the king’s steward, deciding who sees the king.

Jesus, King and son of David, will also bear the responsibility of the stewardship of God’s grace.  One’s attitude toward him determines whether a person enters into the presence of the ruler of the universe.  Jesus doesn’t come to lift – up those who are already in lofty and secure positions. He comes, as Zechariah sings in Luke 1:79, “To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

LSB 357 St. 5

O come, Thou Key of David, come, and open wide our heav’nly home; make safe the way that leads on high, and close the path to misery.  Rejoice!  Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

O Root of Jesse

 

December 19, O Root of Jesse, standing as an ensign before all peoples, before whom all kings are mute, to whom the nations will do homage: Come quickly to deliver us.

Jesse’s family tree reached it highest growth in King David and then it became sick and eventually was totally cut off in 586 BC.  Isaiah 11:10 promises, “In that day,” a fruit bearing branch shall appear having, “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding…counsel and might…knowledge and fear of the Lord,” resting on it.   This will be a signal that the Lord is coming to gather his people from the ends of the earth.

The coming of the Messiah in Jesus is that signal.  At his coming at the end of time, all people proclaiming their own power and might will be silenced.  Along with the poor and the meek they will bow their knee and do homage to the King of Kings.

The prayer which concludes the Bible, Rev. 22:20, is as needed today as ever, “Come Lord Jesus!” Come quickly!

St. 4 of LSB 357 offers a variation on the antiphon:

O come, thou Branch of Jesse’s tree, Free them from Satan’s tyranny that trust Thy mighty pow’r to save, And give them vict’ry o’er the grave.

O Adonai

 

The “O Antiphon” for December 18 is, O Adonai (sacred Lord) and Ruler of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and gave him the Law on Sinai: Come with an outstretched arm and redeem us.

On cold winter days in northern Wisconsin we would work in the woods.  The woods provided protection from the wind and seemed warmer.  Dad would set a big brush pile on fire to provide warmth.  I’m not sure what we would have done, if God had spoken from the pile burning brush.

When God called to Moses out of a burning bush, he answered, “Here I am.”  However, the conversation quickly degenerated as Moses offered excuses for making him the choice to deliver Israel “out of the hand of the Egyptians.”  “Send someone else,” he pleaded.

Wouldn’t you have willingly and faithfully obeyed the Lord’s command?  Well then, why don’t we obey him now?  After all, we have been delivered from slavery to sin through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The Lord did send someone else.  He sent Jesus, who stretched out his arm on the cross and bought us back from slavery to sin and death.

O Wisdom

 

December 17 has long marked the beginning of the “Great O” antiphons that have been used from perhaps as early as the seventh century.  Wisdom is the subject of the first antiphon.

O Wisdom, proceeding from the mouth

Of the Most high, pervading and

Permeating all creation, mightily

Ordering all things:

Come and teach us the way of prudence.

Wisdom is the gift of wise practical living in uprightness, justice and fairness.   In wisdom, God created the world, “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens (Proverbs 3:19-20).”  For us, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Only “fools despise wisdom and instruction (Prv. 1:7).”

Jesus, the son of God, knew wisdom, “He became strong, filled with wisdom (Luke 2:40).”  Therefore, it ought not to surprise us that God would create our salvation with wisdom also.  He used wisdom which confounded human wisdom.  He sent his Son to be crucified for us and for our salvation.  He did this so that no one could boast in God’s presence that he did it himself.  We point to the cross and say, “There is God’s wisdom.”

 

 

 

 

 

Gaudete

 

On a day when the weather is moody; the news from D.C. is gloomy; and John the Baptist’s disciples ask Jesus, “Are you the one or do we look elsewhere.” comes Gaudete Sunday – Rejoice Sunday.  The third Sunday in Advent.  The Sunday of the pink candle.

“Rejoice,” St. Paul writes to the Philippians.  And in case they didn’t get it the first time, “Again, I say rejoice.”  “Sing aloud! Shout!” the Prophet Zephaniah calls to us across the ages, “Rejoice and exult with all your heart.”

Why all this rejoicing, shouting and exulting?  Because, in the words of Psalm 85, it’s the time when “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss.”  While “faithfulness springs up from the ground, righteousness looks down from the sky.”  And wherever you go, righteousness will lead the way breaking a path for you on your walk-through life.

The One for whom you look, the Pathbreaker is nearly here, and it is to him we pray,

Lord Jesus Christ we beseech you to hear our prayers and to lighten the darkness in our heart by your grace-filled visit.  For it you who live and reign with the Father and Holy Spirit, one united God, now and forever.

Gaudete – Rejoice