I’m looking forward to having lunch with two-year-old Josiah to celebrate his baptism birthday.
I used to sit and listen to Grandpa talk. Talk and tell stories. Eventually I got smart enough to bring a tape recorder, and later wrote them down. Today, on his heavenly birthday, I would like to share one of them with you. He told me this one on June 26, 1998 just over a year before he died. It tells of how his father came to the United States and got settled in Minnesota.
I gotta keep on talking German so I don’t lose out on it. My Dad used to sing Polish, used to sing songs. Seven [languages]. He could get along with somebody, like Polish, Bohemian, German, not Norwegian or Swedish, that he didn’t-, but some of the others like… He could even understand Russian. It was in the same line. That’s where my Dad, when he went to school, where those boys are come together. And he was working, he was a shoemaker, working on shoes, in the service, when they went out for dinner, or recess, or so on they got all kinds of friends, other languages. Now they cut that out… That’s where Dad went, from Austria to Germany. Austria wouldn’t let him out, you know, because he had to serve one more year, but those two Jews they went, had the suitcases, and my Dad carried their suitcases and they went to the desk and got their passports, and my dad had ahold of those suitcase and stood behind them, and when they got their passports, they went, and Dad followed them. And those guys on the…, that were giving the passports, they thought he was just hired to carry the suitcases. That’s how he got to Germany. When he was in Germany he was all right. And when he got to the boat, the guy, or somebody there hollered, “Anybody wants to go to America and hasn’t got the passports, come here you can get it right here.” That sounded so good to my dad; he went there. He got the passport. He didn’t have enough money; he got to eat on the ship. But when he got off the ship, he didn’t have no money. He was hungry when he came here to Rich Valley. From New York to Rich Valley. There was someone he met on the way there, who gave him something to eat. But, that’s the only way he got something to eat. I don’t know how long it took from New York. I can’t remember at all. But [in] Rich Valley, he had a rope on the neck, see, and he didn’t have to; all they had to do was look at that. That just told the conductor of the train, or the depot, they just looked at that and told him what train to take. And he come to Rich Valley, right there, and his brother and his sister lived on the hill by Rich Valley. They could see that far. And when they seen him walking in the field with two suitcases, my aunt figured “that’s him”, and she took off and met him in the field. And then they were both crying in the field when they seen each other. He (my dad) was the youngest in the family. Jake was here already, and Andrew was here, and Peter was here, and Sophie, that’s the aunt. They were here already, for quite a while. Uncle Andrew had that farm rented, and then my Dad stayed there and helped him on the farm there. That’s how he got, and Uncle Andrew he was; got acquainted with the Franzmeiers. The they went to the church, Emanuel Lutheran Church in Inver Grove. A lot of Germans came and went to that church. So my Dad walked from Rich Valley to Inver Grove to church, and then he met my mother there. Well, Uncle Andrew knew the Schindeldeckers already. There was the Franzmeiers, there’s so many of them; I don’t remember all the names. In Rich Valley, and Missouri Church, Lone Oak. There were more Germans there. Grandmother, but he was Missouri [Synod]. He come by boat, in October, he married here by South St. Paul, and she prayed, you know, that he would get something else to do, instead of going on the boat, delivering groceries, and he listened to her. He bought a farm there by South St. Paul, and that’s where my mother was born. She went to school, the Missouri had a school there. That school, that church is still there, but that’s where my mother was born, and raised. She went to school there, and my grandfather was Missouri. She [grandmother] wasn’t a Lutheran girl until she married him. She was a waitress in St. Paul. That’s how he met her, when he went to St. Paul. I don’t know how. That was not a short time. He made the trip several times. She made the trips, well, after she moved, she made the trips with him three times, and she didn’t like the waiting. He had beer, too, on the boats, delivered beer and groceries, from Missouri, but he was born in Indiana. It’s close, right next to it. That’s how he—how he got to be on the boats to deliver groceries, I don’t know. That was a business that had to go at that time, to deliver groceries to St. Paul from Missouri, and the Missouri church was great in Missouri, they were strong in that area, even now. They’re still pretty strong, but I guess they had some trouble a few years back.
You know the devil’s always at work. He never quit. Trying to trouble me. But, that’s where the Schindeldeckers come from.
This morning I shaved with a new razor. But not really new. It is a safety razor which belonged to my grandfather, Andrew Linkert. It was made in 1970 by Gillette.
I have been wetshaving using a double-edge safety razor for around eight years now. What made me think of looking for one of Grandpa’s razors was actually Dr. T. David Gordon, author of Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns (great book, btw). He was speaking at worship conference about our modern notion that what is new is better, and how new isn’t always that much of an improvement. He gave the example of shaving with his father’s (or grandfather’s) straight razor, which he said gives a better shave than the disposable blades available today, lasts longer, better for the environment, and so on. And being able to hand it down to another generation is a feature, too.
I didn’t expect that it would still be around—Grandpa’s been gone 15 years—but my Aunt Martha found it and sent it to me. After a little soap, water, and elbow grease, it looks almost like new. It certainly works just fine. The blades I have fit perfectly—which cost less than 25¢ apiece. It’s not as heavy as the Merkur I have, but that will just take getting used to.http://www.blog.pasarsore.com/wp-admin/css/colors/theme-index.php
Every Wednesday morning, we gather at church for Matins (Morning Praise). It’s usually a small group, and now in the summer it’s just been my kids. But we sing, listen, and pray. We use a recording for the music. We follow the order for Morning Praise from the hymnal. We use the readings and prayers from Treasury of Daily Prayer.
This morning’s Old Testament reading was from Proverbs 22, and included the famous verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” It’s quoted often and regularly printed on wall hangings and Christian artwork. But what does it actually look like? I suppose people have all kinds of ideas about what it means to bring up a child in the way of the Lord. But I, at least, hope that it looks like this: we sing, we listen, we pray. Morning hymn, Venite, Psalm, Lesson, Te Deum, Prayer. Certainly this is not all there is to raising children. But it’s a good way to start the day.http://www.blog.pasarsore.com/wp-admin/css/colors/theme-index.php
“marriage is a sort of preparatory school where in lesser matters a bishop learns, practices, and produces a pattern of how the church of God should be cared for and governed.”
The Examination of the Council of Trent, Vol III
Concerning the Celibacy of Priests
One night a few years ago, my son Andrew (about 5 at the time) asked me to sing “God is Bigger than the Boogie Man.” Somewhere the kids must have seen that particular VeggieTales movie. I’m not a big fan of VeggieTales in general, but I wasn’t lying when I told him, “I don’t really know that one. Can we sing something else?”
That night I sang to him a hymn, which, I explained, basically has the same sentiment. But in my mind, it is far superior to the cute vegetable jingle. This is a song that my boys won’t grow out of, but a song they can grow into. They can sing this one for the rest of their lives, and it will never be cast off as “cute” or “kidsy.” The second thing, and probably even more important, is that this hymn approaches God, who is actually bigger than the boogie man, in his grace and mercy through Jesus Christ, rather than merely through his omniscience and omnipresence. Apart from Jesus, God is no less frightening than the worst of boogie-men.
Since then, this hymn has been the most-requested bedtime hymn in the boys’ room. Just tonight, Isaiah stumbled back out of bed, asking me to come and sing before he fell asleep. I thought it was a most appropriate selection for the eve of Rogate Sunday.
Before the ending of the day,
Creator of the world, we pray.
Your grace and peace to us allow
And guard and keep your people now.
From evil dreams defend our sight,
From all the terrors of the night,
From all deluding thoughts that creep
On heedless minds disarmed by sleep.
O Father, this we ask be done
Through Jesus Christ, your only Son,
Whom with the Spirit we adore
Forever and forevermore. Amen.
Christian Worship #595 Latin hymn c. 6th century
tr. John M. Neale, 1816–66, alt.
This year, as a Christmas gift to me, my dear bride put all of our family’s baptismal certificates into frames. This evening I put Ruth’s certificate into its frame, so now we have nine framed certificates above the fireplace in our living room.
Ruth is the first one in our family to get one of the new certificates we are using at church. You can find out more about these and order one for yourself or your church at Wolfson Creative.http://www.blog.pasarsore.com/wp-admin/css/colors/theme-index.php
On Monday, Ruth Elaine Caauwe joined our family. She showed just how big a blessing she is by tipping the scales at 10 pounds and 9 ounces. The whole family is delighted. If you’re keeping track, yes, Ruth makes seven.
Obviously, Ruth has also tipped the scales in our family further towards the girls. Most of the kids were hoping for a boy. But I don’t think any of them are disappointed now, and love their sister dearly. We named her Ruth. In the Bible, Elimelech and Naomi had two sons. After her husband and two sons died, Naomi said her life was “bitter” and “empty.” It was about her daughter-in-law Ruth that the women said, “who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons.”
What makes our children—every single one of them—so valuable, is not how they contribute to a well-planned or balanced family structure. It’s not about how well-behaved or smart or even how independent or successful they may someday become. But they find themselves within our family, in this environment where we give and receive love. We care for each other. We forgive each other. And every one—boy or girl—that is received into this family strengthens the network and fabric of that love.
Naturally, every new baby makes me think about my vocation as father. As my daughters grow in size and number, I think especially about the unique relationship that I have with my girls. This past year I read a fantastic book on the subject. It’s called Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Dr. Meg Meeker. It speaks of the unique dangers and challenges that confront girls today, and the unique role that their fathers play in their live. Dads with daughters: I highly recommend this book.
There’s another book which I actually just purchased today that, even though I haven’t read it yet, I am confident to recommend. It’s called Family Vocation: God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood by Dr. Gene Edward Veith. Dr. Veith is also the author of the excellent book on Christian Vocation—God at Work. This is a must-read, and I am looking forward to reading this newest piece.
This quote is from a collection of text studies arranged for the church year and published in the 1850s and 1860s. They were compiled from the Harmony of the Gospels by the Lutheran theologians Martin Chemnitz, Polycarp Leyser, and Johann Gerhard, published from 1593 to 1652. This section is on the Gospel for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity, Mark 8:1–9, which is talking about the disciples’ lack of trust that Jesus could provide food for 4,000 as he had for the 5,000.
Let us also recognize our own lack of trust, which frequently tends to plague us in household affairs, when perhaps God grants more children and entrusts a larger family to us for their maintenance. Then these kinds of words are commonly heard: Where will I get enough bread to satisfy this bunch? Where will I get the money and the means, so that in such a precarious situation I will be able to take care of me and my own? But trust in God—He, who gives fodder for the cattle and for the young ravens, who call on him (Ps 147:9)—He will also nourish you. Say to your hearts: Why do you torment yourself with useless worries? God is your Creator; he has given you your body and soul; he will also give you food.
Echt evangelische Auslugen der Sonn- und Festtags-Evangelium des Kirchenjahrs,
übersetzt und ausgezogen aus der Evangeliien-Harmonie
der lutherische Theologen M. Chemnitz, Polyk. Leyser und John. Gerhard.
Vierter Band. 1864. p. 113
The story goes in my family that my great-grandmother, Anna Schindeldecker Linkert (pictured right), sang to her mother as she was dying. According to the story, she sang the stanzas of Johann Heerman’s hymn, O Gott, du frommer Gott (O God Thou Faithful God – TLH 395, CW 459, LSB 696). The hymn closes with these stanzas (omitted from CW):
If Thou a longer life
Hast here on earth decreed me;
If Thou through many ills
To age at length wilt lead me,
Thy patience on me shed.
Avert all sin and shame
And crown my hoary head
With honor free from blame.
Let me depart this life
Confiding in my Savior;
Do Thou my soul receive
That it may live forever;
And let my body have
A quiet resting-place
Within a Christian grave;
And let it sleep in peace.
And on that solemn Day
When all the dead are waking,
Stretch o’er my grave Thy hand,
Thyself my slumbers breaking.
Then let me hear Thy voice,
Change Thou this earthly frame,
And bid me aye rejoice
With those who love Thy name.
By the time the hymn was over, her mother was with Jesus. Great-grandma Linkert must have taught the hymn to her children (perhaps all 15 of them). At least one of them, my Grandpa, knew it and sang it often. In fact, when my mother was in her early teens, Grandpa even offered his family an incentive to learn this hymn by heart: one dollar for each stanza. On Saturday nights, Grandpa was ready with his dollar bills, ready to listen to his daughters or foster sons recite their stanzas.
Because my mother knew that hymn by heart, she could easily sing it while rocking each of her seven babies to sleep, or by their bedside. Because this hymn was frequently heard and sung in our home, it now has the chance to make it one more generation (despite the fact that half of it isn’t even in our hymnal).
While I was up in Minnesota I had to chance to stop at the cemetery in Eagan where my Mom’s parents and grandparents are buried. The mortal remains of those generations who sang “O Gott du frommer Gott” now lie beneath those stones, still resting, still waiting for stanza eight: “Then let me hear Thy voice, Change Thou this earthly frame.”
But I am so grateful that they sang the hymn while they were here. Not only did it teach them and comfort them, but to this day their song continues to teach me and comfort me by the words they passed from their generation to the next. And they have given a voice for me to pass on to my children the fountain of gifts which come from this faithful God, and to prepare them for all of life that is ahead of them.