Friday, November 20, 2009


Well, day two of the 'whole week off'. Let's see what's been done on the list.
  • went to court with the YoungMan and he got off with a light fine for Disorderly Conduct. Unfortunately, my bail money from last week went to the fine. I'll never see it again.
  • Made appointments for YoungMan at doctor - now to get him to go, and ask about his on-going health issues
  • had mammogram, which was fine - HEY, what do ya mean, not yearly? Over my dead body. Sis found her cancer at her YEARLY mammo - and under the new guidelines she wouldn't have gone!
  • Last night of NAMI family-to-family. It was overall a good experience. Some of the sessions I could have done without (medication doesn't fix everything). But met some people with extraordinary courage and compassion. And realized we weren't in it alone. I was so grateful Aquila was able to come too.
still to do:
  • clean fridge, shop for weekend and Thanksgiving
  • call for appointments for dentist, passport, car repair, carpet cleaning
  • Get new driver's license. Try to get YoungMan to renew his, too.
  • Prepare downstairs for painting - move stuff, furniture, tape, drape - paint, etc. This is the biggest project on line.
  • shop for Christmas (some was done by internet yesterday , ya!)
  • Play with dyeing before I pack stuff away and out of the dining area
  • figure out what's going on with Thanksgiving day itself. MIL is in rehab, SIL will be alone, but YoungMan hasn't let us know what he will or won't do.
  • re-organize my study.
  • For work: connect with Christmas tree decorators. Review photos for PPT Dec. 6.
  • Read Edgar Sawtell.
Hmm - what about doing the fun stuff first?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

faithful witness

the rough draft of Sunday's sermon

Proper 28B, Nov 14,15, 16, 2009 – Mark 13:1-8 (Faithful Witness)
By Gracious Powers
1 By gracious pow'rs so wonderfully sheltered,
and confidently waiting come what may,
we know that God is with us night and morning,
and never fails to greet us each new day.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a brilliant young theologian, pastor and teacher when Hitler came to power in Germany. He struggled with the implications of what his nation was doing, and what the church should and could be in the face of such wrongs. You’ll find a translation of his poem – Von guten Machten – By Gracious Powers. The English-language church hasn’t yet found a tune that it sings well too, so today we’ll read it together.

Bonhoeffer had come down a long road to write this poem. It was probably written in 1944 – as some of our troops were marching toward Germany, as the battle of the bulge was happening on the German-French border, as the last long winter caused great pain in throughout the war-torn land. It was contained in a smuggled New Year’s letter to his mother and through her, to his many friends, colleages and his young fiancĂ©.

Bonhoeffer had already been imprisoned for more than a year and a half, suspected of helping Jews leave the county, suspected of various violations of the security laws, suspected of avoiding the draft and money laundering. And all those things were true, by the way. Decisions had to be made – these things were done as part of the resistance to evil and the holding up of what was good and decent.

2 Yet is this heart by its old foe tormented,
still evil days bring burdens hard to bear;
oh, give our frightened souls the sure salvation
for which, O Lord, you taught us to prepare.

Think about it as he faces the kind of world Jesus speaks about – a world falling apart – Bonhoeffer turns to faith and trust in an almighty God. Jesus looked at the greatest building in his land – one of the great buildings of any time and place, really – and saw that it would come down – stone upon stone. Jesus saw that whatever humanity creates is perishable – like the grass in the field, as the psalm says. The great Temple, that so impresses the disciples – is only a creation, and does not hold the Creator, Jesus reminds us.

3 And when this cup you give is filled to brimming
with bitter suff'ring, hard to understand,
we take it thankfully and without trembling
out of so good and so beloved a hand.

Bonhoeffer had many opportunities to avoid the coming troubles. Because of his international connections – he was offered work and safe harbor in England, America and even in India – where he was invited to study with Gandhi. But he felt it was important to stick with his country – that if he sheltered somewhere else, he would never have the authority to participate in the restoration after the war. His family was there – his students, the young men studying to be pastors and his church was there. So he went back, from America in 1939, to be on the road, to drink the cup, to look evil in the eye.

“This is but the beginning” – but note Jesus does not say the beginning of the end – but the beginning of birth. God is active, even when we hear of wars and rumors of wars, of earthquakes and famines and new diseases. God is still in charge, even when the world is changing. God is bringing faith to birth, is bringing life to birth, is bringing truth to birth.

For there is always hope – in Bonhoeffer’s story – there is a love story. Out of the ruins of his career and family and hopes, in the midst of war, Dietrich asked a young woman to marry him, only three months before his arrest.

4 Yet when again in this same world you give us
the joy we had, the brightness of your sun,
we shall remember all the days we lived through
and our whole life shall then be yours alone.

There is a hope in this poem – the same kind of realistic hope that we find in our Gospel lesson. Stay fast, says the Gospel, watch and discern the truth in the midst of falsehood. Be wise and do not follow the quick and easy call of the self-appointed Messiahs. Follow the path that Jesus walked - understand that the Temples of this world – whatever buildings or organizations or institutions we know and love and participate in – are just that – Temples of this world.

They may be good and sturdy or they may be falling down – but they do not hold the divine power of God. They are but constructions. Our lives are held in the hand of the Almighty God – the one gracious power that wonderfully shelters us – come what may.

5 By gracious pow'rs so faithfully protected,
so quietly, so wonderfully near,
we live each day in hope, with you beside us,
and go with you through ev'ry coming year. AMEN.

Text: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945; tr. Fred Pratt Green, 1903-2000
English text © 1974 Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL 60188. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Duplication in any form prohibited without permission or valid license from copyright administrator.