Family Fun Night

Fridays used to be the day of the week that I try to take "off."  Recently I switched to Mondays, but I’ve still tried to leave Friday night open if possible.

Today I ended up staying home after lunch. Our lawn desperately need to be mowed (yes, that’s right). And now that the middle school is open down the street, our yard collects much more garbage from passersby. It was getting pretty bad. So I spent a couple hours mowing, trimming, pruning shrubs and rose bushes, and cleaning up.

We’ve begun to have pizza on Friday nights. Usually it’s Papa Murphy’s. The kids really like the cheesy bread. At the end of supper we watched a few of the kids’ birthday videos. Someday I’ll try to post some of those older ones. They’re pretty good.

Then we played a couple games of Candyland. You can’t beat that. And they still manage to get excited when they have to go all the way back to the Gingerbread Man.

Advent_gr_2
Tonight we started singing an Advent hymn before bedtime. We sang "O Lord How Shall I Meet You." When Hannah was little, I used to sing that to her at bedtime. I started it during Advent, but she kept asking for it all year round. She used to be able to sing all the stanzas with me. It probably won’t take them long this time either. We’ll be singing that hymn (CW 18) in church on Sunday. It’s one of my favorites, at least for Advent.

O Lord, how shall I meet you,
How welcome you aright?
Your people long to greet you,
My Hope, my heart’s Delight.
O Jesus, let your Word be
A lamp to light my way,
To show me how to please you,
To guide me ev’ry day.

St. Andrew Festival

St_andrew_el_greco_1610
November 30 is the minor festival of St. Andrew the Apostle. (It’s also my sister-in-law Abby’s birthday.) Our Andrew was very excited when it gave me the opportunity to remind him that there is an Andrew in the Bible. I guess that’s really the value of all the festival days on the Christian calendar. They give the opportunity to turn to Scripture, see those characters that played their role in the story of salvation, but more importantly, to see ourselves there, too.

Andrew doesn’t seem to play as large a role as his brother Peter, but it was Andrew who brought Peter to Jesus. And I love how automatic it seems for Andrew to do that. "The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus" (Jn 1:40-42). Perhaps we might also give thanks to God for those people who "brought us to Jesus" (perhaps they were named Andrew, too).

All praise, O Lord, for Andrew,
The first to welcome you,
Whose witness to his brother
Named you Messiah true.
May we with hearts kept open
To you throughout the year,
Confess to friend and neighbor
Your advent ever near.

VBS: Except Through Me

I was going through some old video on our camcorder last night, and I found this video from this summer’s VBS. This was one of the main songs from the week, and one that the preschoolers learned and sang with us at the end of the week.

“Jesus said, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Advent Wreaths

In my newsletter article this month I wrote about Advent wreaths and how they can be helpful for families as they prepare for Christmas. I thought I would point you to a few places you can purchase advent wreaths for yourself. Most local Christian bookstores that carry gifts and art will probably have them at this time of year, but if you’re inclined to look online…

 

Concordia Publishing House
Northwestern Publishing House

 

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A New Start

Back when I was in college, I used to write a regular mass email to friends and family. It even had a name–“Der Brief” (German for “the letter”). Some of you may remember that. It was an easy way to keep in touch with my family back home and let them know what I was up to. It was also a way for me to share with them my experiences as I was beginning my studies for the ministry, and it gave me a way to practice my writing. Sometimes the letters were purely information. It was a summary of the month’s happenings. Other times the letter took on a more devotional character as I shared with the people I loved the reason I was where I was.

Well, I believe that it was not long after I started Seminary that I stopped writing those letters. I’m not exactly sure why. In the meantime, we communicated through Christmas letters, pictures, and other emails. And, sure, I was busy during these years. We had four children. I finished Seminary and now serve as a pastor in a busy congregation. But I still consider it important to share with others the things I am doing and experience.

And now more than ever. Not only am I further away from most of my family, but I am also away from those friends with whom I went to school. I also have a new audience now. I have a congregation of people who do get to see me on a regular basis. But sometimes our contact is limited to more formal settings, like worship services and Bible classes. Sometimes there are things I would like to share with them that don’t really have any other forum. I don’t like to share all kinds of details about my life and family life from the pulpit, but I love to talk about my kids. So for those who are interested, this is for them.

I have experimented with blogging a few times in the past. I have tried different tools and have had different ideas about what it could be or should be. I prefer blogs to email because 1) I don’t have to maintain an email list, 2) if people don’t want to read it, they don’t have to, 3) you can have the technology notify you whenever there is a new post (in a newsreader or by email), and 4) you don’t have to worry about saving emails, because they are all archived on the web site.

So this is a new start. I call it (for now) A Shepherd’s Story. It’s intended to give you a glimpse into the life of this Lutheran pastor. I probably won’t recount day-to-day experiences, but a few that are significant in the life of our family or our congregation. I’ll try not to write long theological treatises, but I will share some observations from Scripture occasionally.

Please feel free to leave comments to the posts. Let me know what you think. Make sure to subscribe to the blog’s feed in your newsreader or sign up to get new posts by email in the box to the right.