Greetings from Peter Mayer

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Glusenkamp Christmas Letter 2010



Greetings from Denver! From the Glusenkamp family to yours, we wish you all a magical winter season. The year 2010 was an eventful year for the Glusenkamps.

We began the year with a trip to England to celebrate Nathan’s graduation from the University of Sussex with a MA in International Relations. The five of us traveled over the pond with beloved aunt and sister, Trina and Nate’s girlfriend, Kate. We enjoyed days in London, Brighton and Canterbury visiting many museums, churches, pubs, and theatre performances. We are all proud of Nathan and his incredible accomplishments. We felt blessed to start 2010 together since the rest of the year we spend living in different time zones, and we cover all four North American zones!

Nathan continues his work as Program Lead for the PINNACLE Registry at the American College of Cardiology, in Washington, D.C. The PINNACLE Registry is a national ambulatory quality improvement registry that measures adherence to cardiovascular medicine performance measures. It has been a challenging, but ultimately rewarding, year for Nate in this role. In addition to his work at the ACC, he had the opportunity for travel. Destinations included St. Louis for a late season Cardinals game, Minneapolis for Thanksgiving with Hannah, and Northern California with a visit to Uncle Tim and Tim’s alpacas! Nate remains a devoted baseball fan and frequently attends games at Nationals Park in DC. He also developed an affection for English Premier League soccer during his time abroad. He reports that the EPL “footie” (as he insists on calling it) now helps see him through the long months between the end of the World Series and spring training. In the coming year, Nate hopes to have a manuscript he wrote published in a peer-reviewed journal and to travel to at least one new country.

From January to May, Noah continued his work with Organizing for America in Denver before taking a new position as Data Coordinator for a Senatorial campaign in Washington State. Noah and his girlfriend, Caroline, moved to Seattle in June and have been enjoying their return to the West Coast. Caroline is studying to receive both her MA and teaching certificate in Special Education. After Noah’s work with the campaign wrapped up, he departed on Thanksgiving Day, for 3 months of study with Thich Nhat Hanh at Plum Village, outside of Bordeaux, France, http://www.plumvillage.org/.


We are eager to hear of Noah’s experiences upon his return to the USA in February.

During the first half of 2010, Hannah Grace continued her work as shift supervisor in the deli department of the Seward Community Grocery and Deli Co-op in Minneapolis, MN. In July she made an exciting transition as she began work as a full-time Youth Outreach Educator with Lutheran Social Service of MN’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. She now spends her days teaching middle school students in Minneapolis Public Schools. In addition to her work with LSS, she continues to teach at a teen-friendly health clinic, and has begun teaching an after-school leadership class for middle school students through Minneapolis Community Education. She enjoys spending time outside, exercising, studying holistic health and healing, and building community with friends. She has been very happy to have visits from Ron, Sue Ann and Nathan this year!

Sue Ann continues her clinical work as a float RN at Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver. She feels blessed to be able to teach nursing students as affiliate faculty for two local nursing programs and has started her graduate studies at Regis University, http://www.regis.edu/. Sue Ann continues to run with her running buddies and stay active at Bethany in the chancel choir, Health Cabinet, and women’s Deborah Circle. Sue Ann remains committed to travel and enjoyed domestic trips to DC, Seattle, Minneapolis, Fort Wayne, Wichita, the Lou x2 and Camp Arcadia.

Ron continues as Senior Pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church http://bethany-denver.org. This year the congregation collected more than 7,000 pairs of shoes for Soles4Souls and over 10 tons of hunger relief food for 10.10.10, http://hrd101010.blogspot.com. Ron and Sue Ann enjoyed time at Camp Arcadia this summer when Ron co-taught with friend and musician Peter Mayer. Ron continues to enjoy writing his H2o devos, check them out at http://h2odevos.blogspot.com. When Ron isn’t in the pulpit or on the interweb, he is busy walking. This year he participated with other Faithful Soles in the Salt Lake City and Denver Marathons. Plans for this next year include the COUNTRY MUSIC Marathon in Nashville. ROCK ON!! http://nashville.competitor.com/

All five of us, along with Caroline, were able to make it to Branson, Missouri this June to gather with many Friederichs/Fritz clan members for an Ozarks reunion! Hee, Haw!
We celebrated the wedding of our niece and cousin, Sarah, along with a milestone birthday of Tio Tim. The gift of family reuniting is truly a blessing.

As we make our ways around the country and the world, we continue to hold all of you and our times together in our hearts. We are grateful for the Christ Child born in Bethlehem who brings Joy to the World. We hope and pray that you are healthy and happy and filled with love, laughter, light, and maybe even a little holiday nog or glug!

Happy New Year, 2011! Let us know if you visit one of our time zones!

Peace & love,

Ron, Sue Ann, Nathan, Noah and Hannah Grace

tsoc 122510 THE LIGHT OF CHRISTMAS DAY

TSOC 122510 The Light of Christmas Day
CHRISTMAS DAY
December 25, 2010



Peter sings,
“Quiet night the darkness gathers
shepherds and their flocks
o’er a world so torn and tattered
shines the star of grace foretold
Gloria for joy we sing
For Jesus Christ the light of Christmas Day”

The story of Christmas comes to us new each and every year. I simply love the “text message” Saint Luke sent 2,000 years ago.

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger." 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Now, that’s what I’m talking about in the STORY OF CHRISTMAS

May you and yours walk and talk your way through the STORY this year.
Blessings from Peter Mayer and Little Flock Music
From Cynthia Tanner and her family
And from rtg

Joyfully,
Rtg

Friday, December 24, 2010

TSOC 122410 PROCLAMATION Christmas EVE

TSOC 122410 Proclamation
Christmas Eve
December 24, 2010



Peter sings,
“Joyful day
A star to guide you, a song to remind you
The Joy will stay
Long past the turn of the page
In the story of Christmas”

Dear Friends, we are just about there. Only a few more pages and paragraphs to go in this part of the story of Christmas. I am grateful for your participation along the way. WE are all part of the story of Christmas. May you have a “joyful day” tonight and tomorrow and on all days. May there always be a star above your head to guide and direct you.




Listen to the songs of the season, especially those of our good friend Peter Mayer. Let them remind you of hope, light, love and Jesus. Tonight my good colleague, Pastor Ruth Ann Loughry and I will read responsively the Christmas Proclamation:

Sundays and Seasons
Proclamation of the Birth of Christ

PROCLAMATION OF THE BIRTH OF CHRIST

The services on Christmas Eve may begin with the proclamation of the birth of Christ, taken from the ancient martyrology. The proclamation should be understood as the announcement of the incarnation within human history rather than a literal counting of years. The proclamation may be read or sung on one note by a leader standing at the entrance to the church. Following the proclamation, the gathering song is begun.

Many ages after God created the heavens and the earth,
when man and woman were formed
in God's own image;
long after the great flood, when God set the rainbow
in the clouds as a sign of the covenant;
twenty-one centuries from the time of Abraham and Sarah;
thirteen centuries after Moses led God's people to freedom;
eleven centuries from the time of Ruth and the judges;
a thousand years from the anointing of David as king;
in the sixty-fifth week as Daniel's prophecy takes note;
in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty-second year
from the founding of the city of Rome;
the forty-second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
in the sixth age of the world,
all earth being at peace,
Jesus Christ, eternal God, Son of the eternal Father,
willing to hallow the world by his coming in mercy,
was born of the virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judea.
Today is the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ,
God made flesh.


From Sundays and Seasons.com. Copyright 2010 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #26681.

Joyfully,
rtg


The Story of Christmas
by Peter Mayer

“New colors dancing on evergreen branches
You feel a change in the wind
Brings new light to your eyes once again

A year full of meanwhiles, hard times, good smiles
Suddenly the yuletide is near
Creeps in quietly, soon undeniably catches your heart
You’re part of the story of Christmas

Chorus
Joyful day
A star to guide you, a song to remind you
The Joy will stay
Long past the turn of the page
In the story of Christmas

Ribbons and strings, cold frozen streams
Forgotten dreams running wild
When every Mother and Father is a child

The song of an angel, good cheer to a stranger
The ones you’ve known all the way
Coming back to the heart of the matter to scatter the whistles and
bells
You’re telling the story of Christmas
Chorus”

Thursday, December 23, 2010

TSOC 122310 WALKIN'

TSOC 122310 Walkin’
December 23, 2010
Thursday




“Hey Joseph Keep walking Hey Joseph keep walking
Hey Joseph Keep walking to Bethlehem
Hey Joseph Keep walking Hey Joseph keep walking
Keep walking Joseph you’re part of the plan”

Hey Joseph by Peter Mayer

http://www.startwalkingnow.org/about_start_walking_day.jsp

I just got back from a walk with our daughter, Hannah Grace. She is home for the holidays. YEA! During the walk we were able to talk about the following:
1. what should be in the sermon for Christmas Eve
2. catching up on how each other has been doing
3. Work- hers and mine
4. Human sexuality
5. Politics
6. What’s for dinner?

I love walking and talking. I’m wondering if Joseph and Mary walked and talked their way to Bethlehem. I imagine the time was either filled with lots of caring conversation or lots of silence. I mean what or how do you even talk about this amazing story of God bringing the Light of the world into being through the pregnancy of a young woman? If I was Joseph (and I’m grateful I’m not) I think I just would have been talking to myself, or to God. And what about Mary? Too bad Elizabeth wasn’t along side her. Too bad she didn’t have an entourage of sisters to help her at this pivotal time.

So, the holy family plus almost 1, the Holy Little One soon to be born was on the road to Bethlehem. The message as Peter sings, “keep walkin.”





We’re just about there. I love the 45th Parallel Sign because it reminds me that one is never, ever stuck. There is always a place one can go in the story of Christmas.

“Hey Joseph Keep walking Hey Joseph keep walking
Hey Joseph Keep walking to Bethlehem
Hey Joseph Keep walking Hey Joseph keep walking
Keep walking Joseph you’re part of the plan”

Hey Joseph by Peter Mayer

Joyfully,
rtg

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

TSOC 122210 ONLY YOU

TSOC 122210 Only You
December 22, 2010
Wednesday

Peter sings,
“Only You break down the walls that hide me away
Only You can turn the night into day
Only You can stop the darkness from overtaking me
Created the land the sky and sea
I know it in my heart to be true”



Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NOTE- The following information and photo is from www.nasa.gov
“Moon Shadows
A total lunar eclipse is seen as the full moon is shadowed by the Earth on the arrival of the winter solstice, Tuesday, December 21, 2010 in Arlington, VA. The eclipse lasted about three hours and twenty-eight minutes.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth lines up directly between the sun and the moon, blocking the sun’s rays and casting a shadow on the moon. As the moon moves deeper and deeper into the Earth's shadow, the moon changes color before your very eyes, turning from gray to an orange or deep shade of red”.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Psalm 148:3
”Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars!”

Every mystery needs a “who dunnit?” And the answer to “who?” is as Peter sings, “Only You.”


Peter sings,
“Only You break down the walls that hide me away
Only You can turn the night into day
Only You can stop the darkness from overtaking me
Created the land the sky and sea
I know it in my heart to be true”


For the past couple of days I’ve been saying over and over again, “there are lots of ways to praise!” During the story of Christmas it is so great to be in contact and “harmony” with friends near and far. Each day when Sue Ann and I open up the Christmas cards and letters which arrive in the mail we give thanks for the dear friends and family that we’ve been blessed to know and love. Just today someone said to me, “you know, Pastor Ron, this is a hard time of year.” And I know that. I am aware of people getting ready to bury a loved one. I’m cognizant of people who have been so hurt and harmed by friend and foe that the scar tissue seems like it will never heal and disappear. Jobs are lost. Marriages come to a close. The future and the whole notion of hope seems to be eclipsed at times.

But, yet in this story of Christmas (which we are fortunate to know how the story ends) we are drawn to a stable in a world that isn’t always stable and calm. We may not seem to be able to manage but we come to the manger and see the baby. Loved ones are sick and feeling the stress of disease. But our pain is eased and lifted by JOY. One might feel that there is “a straw that broke the camel’s back” but there in the straw is the One who ends up carrying the weight of the world on his back.

We bow our heads, lift our hands in prayer and know it in our hearts to be true,
“the answer to me is ONLY YOU.”
Joyfully,
rtg


DVR ALERT!! ** Today Show Appearance Rescheduled for TODAY, December 22nd! Tune in to the Today Show TOMORROW morning, Wednesday, December 22nd (in the 8:30 half hour) to watch Jimmy Buffett, Robert Greenidge and the Coral Reefers perform "Winter Wonderland" from Robert's newly released CD "A Coral Reefer Christmas."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

TSOC 122110 MYSTERY

TSOC 122110 Mystery
December 21, 2010
Tuesday


Peter sings,
“haven’t made sense of the mystery
but it makes sense of me”

On Sunday night, Peter Mayer along with Maggie Estes and R. Scott Bryan presented a concert at our congregation. It was such a day and evening full of wonder and joy that I had to dip into the archives to do an encore performance for a devo on Monday. But, now I’m back and thinking about mystery.

On Sunday at each one our three worship services we sang “OF THE FATHER’S LOVE BEGOTTEN.” The name of the tune is Divinum Mysterium. I just love that song. The words are 1600 years old and the tune is about 700 years old. It touches my heart and soul in ways that are deep and profound.

In the story of Christmas there are some pages of mystery. I think back a long time ago to the name of a group called “? and the Mysterians.”
When the word “mystery” is spoken we often think about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or Nancy Drew, or Ellery Queen and even Dashiell Hammett. The birth narratives reported in the gospels don’t have any
characters like Columbo or Quincy M.D. wondering around the C.S.I (Christmas Scene Incarnation). But, in thinking about the holy nativity questions like “who, what, where, why and when?” come to my mind. We’d naturally like to know why God chose Mary and Joseph to be the ones to raise the child. Was there an application and interview process? Why was that particular time and place selected for the birth to take place?
How come when angels appear to people their first words are “don’t be afraid?” Who thought it was a good idea to have the shepherds come into the labor and delivery room?
Have you ever thought of giving a newborn baby, Gold, Frankincense or myrrh? Where do you register for that? I find the following verse to be very refreshing and liberating. For it seems to just acknowledge there are things we just don’t know and won’t know until that time when it is revealed to us. But what has been revealed to us is simple and profound, God is LOVE!

St. Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:16,
Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great:
He was revealed in flesh,
vindicated in spirit, seen by angels,
proclaimed among Gentiles,
believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory.

Peter sings,
“haven’t made sense of the mystery
but it makes sense of me”

There’s not doubt or question about it!

joyfully,
rtg


Of the Father's Love Begotten

1 Of the Father's love begotten
ere the worlds began to be,
he is Alpha and Omega,
he the source, the ending he,
of the things that are, that have been,
and that future years shall see,
evermore and evermore.

2 Oh, that birth forever blessed,
when the virgin, full of grace,
by the Holy Ghost conceiving,
bore the Savior of our race,
and the babe, the world's redeemer,
first revealed his sacred face,
evermore and evermore.

3 This is he whom seers in old time
chanted of with one accord,
whom the voices of the prophets
promised in their faithful word;
now he shines, the long-expected;
let creation praise its Lord
evermore and evermore.

4 Let the heights of heav'n adore him;
angel hosts, his praises sing;
pow'rs, dominions, bow before him
and extol our God and King;
let no tongue on earth be silent,
ev'ry voice in concert ring
evermore and evermore.

5 Christ, to thee, with God the Father,
and, O Holy Ghost, to thee,
hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
and unwearied praises be:
honor, glory, and dominion,
and eternal victory
evermore and evermore! Amen.

Text: Marcus Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, 348-413; tr. composite

Sunday, December 19, 2010

TSOC 121910 THE KEY - Fourth Sunday of Advent

TSOC 121910 The Key
Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 19, 2010




FOURTH ANTIPHON

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 sha- | dow of death.

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

(the following devo originally appeared as a sermon entitled Fulfilled by Promise on December 23, 2007- it has be retrofit to fit the devo format)

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." 22All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23"Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, "God is with us." 24When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
Matthew 1

Peter sings,
“Keep walkin, keep walkin, Joseph,
you’re part of the plan”

The words from Isaiah dance across the skies and into our hearts this morning,
"Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, "God is with us."

“God is with us.” Those four words, 11 letters, constitute a promise which was given centuries before the birth of Christ. And now 2000 plus years it embraces us and engulfs our hearts and minds as we gather together via of web and blog before the big celebrations of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. “God is with us.”

Though out all the sounds, sights and signs of this season there is someone who stands off to the side. He isn’t the center of attention, nor should he be. But, today we hear about Joseph who has to be regarded as one of the most “stand-up” guys that there ever was.
He and Mary had been promised to each other and before a wedding and the honeymoon could even take place, Joseph is informed that “she was found to be with child.” We’re not given any indication how this “finding” was discovered or uncovered. We’re not advised on who revealed the pregnancy. Obviously, years before gossip columns or online sites like TMZ, tweets or androids there was a grapevine of sorts. And so the news is out, “she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.”

Joseph was a carpenter. He knew how pieces of wood fit together and whether something was plum or not. He could take a planer and make the rough edges smooth. But, now he found himself in a situation which threatened to compromise his standing in the community. He must have wondered if “God was with him or not.”
I imagine he wondered if he could fit all the pieces together or not.

Peter sings,
“Keep walkin, keep walkin, Joseph,
you’re part of the plan”


Now he is confronted with this information that his promised bride is “with child from the Holy Spirit.” We are told in the text “Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.” He could have made a big deal out of it all. He could have broken the promise in a public way. In fact, he would have been within his rights to do so. But, instead he wanted to save some face for himself and also for Mary.

20But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

Peter sings,
“Keep walkin, keep walkin, Joseph,
you’re part of the plan”


Talk about a dream. Maybe at first he thought his nightmare was continuing. Not only does he have a pregnant fiancĂ©, but now an angel is talking to him in his sleep. And yet the angel addresses him as being a descendant of the King, King David. Joseph, don’t be afraid, for this child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. I am sure he must have rolled over and thought to himself, what on earth did I eat for supper?

Dreams, the bible is full of them. Way back in Genesis, another Joseph was getting celestial communications which told of a time when God would be utilizing him to be a leader of a nation. God comforted him by letting him know that even though things weren’t going so well at that moment, that God was with him.

Jacob also had dreams which encouraged him to hang in there, even though his current reality was frightening and scary. God was also with him in those moments of fear and despair.

So, Joseph’s fiancĂ©,Mary changes his mind, or maybe it’s his heart that gets changed by the angelic message of the dream. “don’t be afraid.” What an appropriate greeting.
Fear is often what holds us back. Fear stops us from doing what we know in our hearts we should/could do. Fear immobilizes us and stops us dead in our tracks.

But, hope, faith and being convinced that “God is with us” frees us from the frozenness of fear. It melts our hearts, enables our feet to start walking and guides our hands and eyes to get engaged in a way that moments ago we might have thought was impossible.

Peter sings,
“Keep walkin, keep walkin, Joseph,
you’re part of the plan”


The angel went on to disclose more of the promised plan to Joseph,

“1She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

Fulfilled by promise! That’s where we find ourselves this day. “God is with us.”
And what that means is that in the midst of all the preparations and deliberations of our lives, in spite of disappointments and fear, no matter where we find ourselves, God is there with us.

And hopefully that message goes out on the grapevine to all we are connected to. Hopefully, we find ways to “go tell it on the mountain.” Hopefully and graciously we come forward and make a manger in our hands, to receive the bread of life. Bethlehem means, house of bread. You and I are promised that when we eat and drink in remembrance of Jesus, though we die, yet we shall live. That’s the key in the story of Christmas.

It’s fulfilled by promise.

Joyfully,
rtg

Saturday, December 18, 2010

TSOC 121810 RING OUT THE BELLS + RING OF BELLS

TSOC 121810 Ring Out the Bells + Ring of Bells
December 18, 2010
Saturday




“Once again, the story begins
Bringing good news in the night
Ring out the bells Christmastide”

Ring Out the Bells by Peter Mayer

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Just one week from today is Christmas Day! Tomorrow night, Sunday the 19th, our congregation Bethany Lutheran Church www.bethany-denver.org will host Peter Mayer, Maggie Estes and R. Scott Bryan. If you live in the Denver area or have loved ones in the Denver area, you are most welcome to join us. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. Doors open at 6:15pm

I always look forward to these encounters since people leave the concert full of joy and hope. When you come to a Peter Mayer concert one catches a glimpse of sacred stars and perennial promises.

Peter sings,
“Once again, the story begins
Bringing good news in the night
Ring out the bells Christmastide”





The ring of bells on the front door was designed by Delia Stewart. She is bringing about 35 of her angels to grace the windows and stage of the concert area on Sunday night. She likes to call her creations, “heavenly metal.” As you can see Harmony the angel is already dressed up and ready to go. I love her angels made out of “junk” because she sees beauty in the rusted, busted, twisted and broken. Delia knows that her art is a reflection of God’s marvelous design in transforming we humans who get “rusted”, busted, twisted and broken. It’s all about being “redeemed, recycled and repurposed” to be angels for God.



The “story of Christmas” is told in many ways. The picture right above this paragraph is from a copy of Luther’s New Testament published in 1525. I snapped the photo last February at the newly renovated Victoria and Albert Museum in London. One of Luther’s many gifts was his ability to bring it to the people. He was fond of asking the question “what does this mean?” I like to say that question is similar to “does it play in Peoria?”
In other words, “what Sunday School take-home is there?” The comedy of the gospel is brought home when we realize that the impractical message of God’s holy love is meant to be practiced practically by every boy, every girl, every women and every man so that all might hear the bells of Christmastide and find their way home.

Joyfully,
rtg

Friday, December 17, 2010

TSOC 121710 THE PERFECT TREE

TSOC121710 The Perfect Tree
December 17, 2010
Friday



Peter sings,
“He thinks of home, then he thinks again
And sees his old man shake his head and disapprove
Hear the children singing peace on earth
To a scattered family
You can dream of home for Christmas
But it's a long way back to Harmony”


I saw the sign at Whole Foods yesterday when I was out and about. The line “perfect tree” got me to think about our quest for perfection. I know most corporations and even non-profit organizations have “excellence” as one of their core values. Single people hope to find the “perfect” mate. Expectant parents hope and dream for the “perfect” child. Of course, perfect families need to send their kids to “perfect” schools where there are “perfect” teachers and “perfect” administrators and other “perfect students.” “Perfect” families shop to find the “perfect” church which is served by “perfect” pastors and “perfect” staff. We hope to have “perfect” holiday parties and “perfect” Christmas Eve services. Then we go home to give and receive the “perfect” gifts for each other.
The only problem in this “perfect” picture or scene is that we aren’t perfect. As you and I know all too well, we are far from perfect. In fact, sometimes the holidays heighten the imperfection we all share.

Maybe a better concept or quest to have than “perfect” is HARMONY. St. Paul was hip to this need 2, 000 years ago. He wrote in Romans 12:16,
”Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.”

I’m thinking that with God as the mighty conductor or “mix-master” all our voices, a cacophony of sounds (maybe even noises) get blended into a lovely chorus. This “harmonization” comes about because God sets the tone, the tune and the rhythm.
Peter’s song, Harmony recognizes the discordant sounds of our lives. Often in the story of Christmas we hear the echoes of “Peace on Earth” while we argue and fight with one another. Sometimes the struggle we have is most intense with those we love the very most. Peter sings,
“It doesn't really if it's yours or if it's mine
It's the same amount of distance taken one step at a time”
So, I’m praying today for you and for me. I’m lifting you up to God so that if you are separated from someone right now, if there is distance between you and another that God will fill that space with the sweetest sounds of love, joy and peace.
Joyfully,
rtg

PS Sue Ann & I got our tree yesterday. It’s a nice tree, it’s a lovely tree, but it’s not perfect. However, we had a harmonious time picking it out!

Harmony
Peter Mayer, Mac McAnally, Roger Guth

Tonight a choir sings in harmony
Shoppers hurry by or make a choice
Main Street wears the same Christmas every year
And carolers repeat the sounding joy

Just an hour to closing time at Georges' market
The old man wraps up chocolate and the beer
Says fine when asked how's your boy been
Though he hasn't heard a word from him this year

Hear the children singing peace on earth
Must they close their eyes to see
You can dream of home for Christmas
But it's a long way back to Harmony

Half a days drive east he found Chicago
It took years to shake the small town from his shoes
He thinks of home, then he thinks again
And sees his old man shake his head and disapprove

Hear the children singing peace on earth
To a scattered family
You can dream of home for Christmas
But it's a long way back to Harmony

It doesn't really if it's yours or if it's mine
It's the same amount of distance taken one step at a time
Three more years a choir sings in Harmony
The old man and the market fade away

But his son's been coming home to talk to him
To wrestle out a thing or two he could never say
Hear the children singing peace on earth
To this scattered family

It's never enough for all you try to be
But you're welcome home
It's a long way home
But you're welcome home in Harmony

Thursday, December 16, 2010

TSOC 121610 THIS TOWN

TSOC 121610 THIS TOWN
December 16, 2010
Thursday




Peter sings,
“We were driving down the Main Street of America
Young and free and so misunderstood
Looking for the exit sign
A place to ease our mind
Some kept moving on
Some will stay for good
Oh in this town”





IMHO (in my humble opinion) THIS TOWN is one of Peter’s finest songs.
I think he really captures the spirit and feeling of home coupled with the yearning and desires of wanting to be free. At the same time there is attraction and also a sense of repelling.

Tonight Peter brings the Stars and Promises tour to St. Louis. It will be an amazing show because there is a connection between Peter and “this town.” The mighty Mississippi brings energy to the community. Familiar places like Gus’ Pretzels http://www.guspretzels.com/ Ted Drewes http://www.teddrewes.com/Drewes.asp, Dad’s Cookies http://www.dadscookies.com/ along with Gethsemane Lutheran Church
http://www.gethsemanestl.org/ all stir up wonderful memories and make me recall “the story of Christmas” which we experienced in St. Louis.

Peter sings,
“We were driving down the Main Street of America
Young and free and so misunderstood
Looking for the exit sign
A place to ease our mind
Some kept moving on
Some will stay for good
Oh in this town”


Joyfully,
rtg

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

TSOC 1211510 ALL ABOARD!

TSOC 121510 ALL ABOARD!
December 15, 2010
Wednesday



Peter sings,
“Joyful day
A star to guide you, a song to remind you
The Joy will stay
Long past the turn of the page
In the story of Christmas”

I have a train whistle which I blow when I go to do “story telling” with the young children at our early childhood center. It’s a signal that it’s time to get set, to get quiet and ready for a story. Sometimes I say, “all aboard.” And then we depart for a story or two. It’s fun. It’s wild. It’s full of energy, laughter and spunkiness.

I received the following note from our dear Minnesota friend, Karen Daniels:
She writes,

Just have to pass this picture on to you, thinking that someday you might find a use for it in a sermon, song, devo, whatever!
My friend, Merrilee Larson, a fellow Swede, has set out her Fisher Price Little People, as part of her Christmas decorations for several years. Her grandchildren are so thrilled seeing them in festive settings that the people have now become a tradition at their house. During the year, they are played with extensively. :>)
This year she decided to congregate them as a Christmas Choir in front of the yearly Lenox Christmas Plate, which happens to be the year the Lennox tree represented Sweden. She says the choir’s favorite carol is “Joy to The World”!
I love it and figured you might, too ... even though I don’t think either of you are Swedish. :>)
Everyone loves the Little People!
Enjoy!
Take good care during this Advent Season,
Karen

The picture reminds me of a Fisher Price version of the Beatles’ Album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band! It seems that everyone is “all aboard.” The story of Christmas includes and involves everyone. Today it would be good for you to get “connected” or “re-connected” with folks who haven’t been part of the picture for some time.

Peter sings,
“Joyful day
A star to guide you, a song to remind you
The Joy will stay
Long past the turn of the page
In the story of Christmas”

Joyfully,
rtg

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TSOC 121410 RIGHTEOUS RECALCULATION

TSOC 121410 Righteous Recalculation
December 14, 2010
+John of the Cross+, renewer of the church, died 1591

Photo by Brenda Greenwald

Peter sings,
“New colors dancing on evergreen branches
You feel a change in the wind
Brings new light to your eyes once aga
in”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/02/science/space/02star.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

A recent article in the NY Times indicates that the amount of stars has been amazingly underestimated. “Scientists said Wednesday that the number of stars in the universe had been seriously undercounted, and they estimated that there could be three times as many stars out there as had been thought. This undercounting, of cool, dim dwarf stars in certain galaxies, could throw a monkey wrench into astronomers’ understanding of how galaxies formed and grew over the eons. “
In other words “OOPS!” I would say it is time for a “righteous recalculation.”
As Peter sings,
“New colors dancing on evergreen branches
You feel a change in the wind
Brings new light to your eyes once again”

In the days of Advent as we dance our way into the story of Christmas it is good to have a righteous recalculation. I mean we need to step back and analyze our asset allocations, for as Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” (Matthew 6:21).

It’s the season of stars and promises.
Today is a day to take inventory of the accounts and balances that we have kept in our hearts and souls over time. It’s an opportunity to clean the slate, to have a righteous recalculation, to “forgive in the way we have been forgiven.”

Joyfully,
rtg

Monday, December 13, 2010

TSOC 121310 THE SONG OF AN ANGEL

TSOC 121310 The Song of an Angel
December 13, 2010
Monday
+Lucy+, martyr, died 304
http://www.sweden.se/eng/Home/Lifestyle/Traditions/Celebrating-the-Swedish-way/Lucia/



Peter sings,
Ribbons and strings, cold frozen streams
Forgotten dreams running wild
When every Mother and Father is a child

The song of an angel, good cheer to a stranger
The ones you’ve known all the way
Coming back to the heart of the matter to scatter the whistles and
bells
You’re telling the story of Christmas”

On Sunday the children at our church presented their Christmas program. As the children were the teachers the parents and grandparents were the students/learners.
It is as Peter sings,
“When every Mother and Father is a child.”

There is something remarkable about this time of year when adults time travel back into their childhood. Some of those memories are really grand and I’m sure some of them stir up pain, sadness and unresolved feelings. If you happen to have some of that sad stuff going on in your life it is my hope and prayer that light will come into the darkness. If you have some glad stuff going on in your life it is my hope and prayer that you will let your light shine.

There is lots of snow in parts of the country. I’m thinking the “song of an angel” is calling those of you who have snow to let your inner angel out and make a snow angel


Joyfully,
rtg

Sunday, December 12, 2010

TSOC 121210 Prophetic Poetry or Poetic Prophecy

TSOC 121210 Prophetic Poetry or Poetic Prophecy
3rd Sunday of Advent
December 12, 2010




Peter sings,

“Dry deserts turn from sand to bloom
The earth a sudden fragrant room”


The children of Israel needed some re-orientation and it all happens in Isaiah 35.
The day was coming when there was going to be a homecoming. After having lost everything, their land, their homes, their culture and their temple they were now going to get to come back home.

The word which was spoken to them was full of grace and hope,

“3Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
4Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
"Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you."

One of the blessings of being a child of God is that people let you into their lives. You know this from your personal experiences. When people are aware that you go to church, that you read the Bible, that you are spiritual and that you pray while attempting to do good things the end result is they see you in a certain way. And when they find themselves in a situation or in a predicament they issue you an invitation to listen to what’s going on in their life. God’s Spirit hovers over these caring conversations and all we need to do is be present.

We all know folks who have “weak hands” or “feeble knees” or a “fearful heart.” And the prophet Isaiah reminds us that all we need to say or do is simply, “Be strong, do not fear!” It’s poetic prophecy or prophetic poetry.
For the time is coming when
5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.

Eyes are opened
Ears now hear
People in wheelchairs and those who have prosthetics will dance with the Stars
Those who haven’t been able to talk aren’t going be able to stop talking about what God has done for them.

Not only will people be changed, but all of creation- there is a grand reversal of fortunes:

For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
7the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.



What was just mile and mile of sand has now become beachfront property
There will be water skiing and alls sorts of Water World activities
The places and spaces were there was nothing but dust and cactus will now
look like the botanical gardens.

Peter sings,

“Dry deserts turn from sand to bloom
The earth a sudden fragrant room”





8A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God's people;
no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
9No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
10And the ransomed of the LORD shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.


The One who called himself, the Way, the Truth and the Life will join us on the journey.
We remember the promise of the psalmist, “thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” There won’t be any sorrow, but joy and happiness 24X7.

Now that’s something that’s worth singing about!
It’s all part of the story of Christmas.

Joyfully,
rtg

Saturday, December 11, 2010

CAN DO! TSOC 121110

TSOC 121110 CAN DO!
December 11, 2010
Saturday



Peter sings,
“From a raindrop to a river
from one lonesome word a song
Source of all gifts,
Friend and forgiver
Bring us together,
Pass it on”


Here’s something to think about this Christmas as you participate in the story of Christmas. When you go to the grocery store be sure to pick up some extra canned goods (be sure also to pay for them) and then take them to church or a local agency. If you are thinking about what you need to pick-up, why not get some canned fruit? Our good friends at Metro CareRing www.metrocarering.org have a list of items that are always needed: Here is their TOP TEN LIST!

1. Hearty Soup (Meat or Vegetarian)
2. Canned Meat (Tuna, Chili, Chicken or Ham)
3. Canned Cooked Beans (pinto, black, refried)
4. Peanut Butter
5. Canned Mixed Vegetables
6. Canned Fruit
7. Canned Tomatoes
8. Whole grain pasta
9. Pasta Sauce
10. Diapers
You might be saying to yourself, “self, what does my one can or half dozen of cans mean among so much hunger and need?” Well, check this out. The following story is in all FOUR gospels, Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:31-44; Luke 9:10-17; and John 6:5-15. There was a young boy with five pieces of sushi and two bagels. Jesus received his offering and fed more than 5,000 people.

Peter sings about this miracle,

“From a raindrop to a river
from one lonesome word a song
Source of all gifts,
Friend and forgiver
Bring us together,
Pass it on”


We CAN DO it! PASS IT ON!

Joyfully,
rtg

Friday, December 10, 2010

TSOC 121010 A is for Angel

TSOC 121010 A is for Angel
December 10, 2010
Friday




Lighthearted by Delia Stewart

Peter sings,
“A is for Angel, that’s where we start
A is for Angel, took hold of my heart”

Thursday is my day off. Now, I know that may sound strange to some of you that pastors take days off, but we do. Actually, I truly believe that the better boundaries clergy have the healthier they are (as well as their families and congregations, too.) Just like for many of you, some days off are better than others. Yesterday was a day of errands. I did some minor household things and a little Christmas shopping. However, nothing exciting took place. It was just a plain, routine, average day. I also walked around Wash Park in the mid-afternoon.

Our daughter Hannah Grace has a picture/plaque in her room (she lives in Minneapolis, but has space here) with the following quote from Hebrews 13:2.
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Those words always make me stop and think. Hannah has very much embraced those words into her life as she meets and greets everyone with respect and kindness.

I like those words because they remind me that there is more than meets the eye. Often we think we know exactly what is happening when in reality there is more taking place than we are aware. The person we don’t make eye contact “sees” that we are afraid or offended by them. I don’t perceive myself to be a wealthy person, but I know that I am privileged beyond the dreams of most people in the world. I recognize there are people who are hungry, hurting and alone. Wouldn’t it be wild if we acknowledged those around us as the angels that they could very possibly be? Their message, their mission might be
to “lighten” our hearts from being burden by worries, concerns and doubt.

Peter sings,
“A is for Angel, that’s where we start
A is for Angel, took hold of my heart”

So today’s assignment is simple, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

It’s all part of the story of Christmas,
Joyfully,
rtg

Thursday, December 9, 2010

WALKING TO THE SUN TSOC 120910 Thursday

TSOC 120910 Walking to the Sun
December 9, 2010
Thursday




Peter sings,
“Rising up falling down goin’ round in ageless circles
Spotlight upstaging all our wanderings
Chasing and dreams and desires
They don’t know the distance from the fire
It shines on everyone
Walking to the sun”


Peter and I were in the Kansas City area in October to do some singing and Bible study. Now, I need to clarify that in the division of labor between us, Peter does all the singing and also some Bible study. Whereas, music lovers and music critics have asked me to focus my attention on Bible study. We were graciously hosted at the Hollis Retreat Center http://www.holliscenter.org/
As you can see in the picture above Peter was “goin’ round in ageless circles.”

This past Sunday my colleague Pastor Ruth Ann preached an amazing sermon on HOPE. You can read it or listen to it be going to http://www.bethany-denver2.org/church-life/sermons/?sermon_id=160

In the sermon she talked about getting from one place to another place. Sometimes it seems like “we can’t get there from here.” Isn’t that the truth? In the story of Christmas we like Mary and Joseph make our way through the highways and byways of our time, culture, background and situations. We go forward in this process of faith by walking, taking it one step at a time.

This past year, five of my buddies from church joined me in training for and then successfully completing the Denver Marathon. (Standing ovation). You can see a picture of our happy team at http://revup-rtg.blogspot.com/
Andrea, Bob, Brenda, Sarah, Mark and myself trained all summer in order that we might be able to achieve our goal. We named our team, “Faithful Soles.”



I’ve learned many lessons in doing marathon walking. But, probably the most important thing I’ve learned along the way is how grand it is to have “walking buddies.” The take home lesson for today is to find and relish an “Advent Accompanist” someone who walks and talks with you along the way.

In this story of Christmas, we’re walking to the sun, with the Son!

Joyfully,
rtg

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

ECHOES OF STORIES TSOC 120810 Wednesday

TSOC 120810 Echoes of Stories
Wednesday
December 8, 2010



Peter sings,
“The song of an angel, good cheer to a stranger
The ones you’ve known all the way
Coming back to the heart of the matter to scatter the whistles and
bells
You’re telling the story of Christmas”


I’ve been out making home visits during these days before Christmas. I must tell you that I am always humbled by the faithful stories told by parishioners. I told my colleague Pastor Ruth Ann today that listening to these stories makes me feel like an archeologist of narratives. That during a conversation broken bits and pieces of stories are dug up, revealed and examined. It is as if these “shards” get discovered and re-discovered again and again in light of the story of Christmas. We then analyze our story while hearing echoes of God’s amazing love story for us.

Sometimes the stories wander here and there. In other words there are subplots and sub-themes that don’t readily appear to be connected to the original narrative. But, usually after a few twists and turns we find ourselves back on track while the story continues.

It is as Peter sings,
“Coming back to the heart of the matter to scatter the whistles and
bells.”


I’ve been thinking and praying a lot these days about the “heart of the matter.” Another way of saying that is to reflect on what is really, I mean really, really important. As we participate in the days of Advent it is a priority to be intentionally in touch with one’s values, priorities and goals.

I remained convinced that the “heart of the matter” is when it comes to the heart of God that humans really matter! This isn’t fiction. This isn’t just a little fable. But, rather God has totally wrapped God’s self up in the story of Christmas.

It’s amazing, isn’t it?

Joyfully,
rtg

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

GOOD SMILES TSOC 120710 +Ambrose+

TSOC 120710 Good Smiles
December 7, 2010
Tuesday
+Ambrose+, Bishop of Milan, died 397




Peter sings,
“A year full of meanwhiles, hard times, good smiles
Suddenly the yuletide is near
Creeps in quietly, soon undeniably catches your heart
You’re part of the story of Christmas”

“Tempus fugit” in other words “time flies.” Sue Ann and I have already said to each other a zillion times this month, “can you believe it is December?” It certainly has
crept “in quietly.” Another saying about “time” which is often repeated is “Time heals all wounds.” I know that this is partially true. It does appear that sometimes the distance of time does seem to help reduce the pain, animosity and shame associated with a particular injury or hurtful event. At the same time I have known and experienced people who are able to hold onto their intense anger and pain for many, many years. I believe that God grants and dispenses a “holy amnesia” which enables humans to be able to forgive, simply because when we “remember” what has been done for us in Christ on the cross, we then have energy and impetus to “forgive.”

Today, December 7th is a day marked in time. Having been born in 1954, I am also old enough and young enough to remember the “infamy of this day, December 7, 1941. My father, Frank along with thousands of women and men fought in WWII as the “greatest generation” lived out their calling.

On internship from seminary, Sue Ann and I were able to purchase our first new car. The list price was less than $4,000. (We have almost paid that much for a new computer).
I can remember being criticized by someone at the church I served because Sue Ann and I drove an “import” a Toyota from Japan. This took place almost 40 years after December 1941. The person’s feelings were intense and real. I am not criticizing that person for what they said or felt. Nor is it my intention to minimize the horror and devastation of war. My goal is to help communicate the “peace of God that passes all understanding.”

For I know that we, you and I hold onto grudges and pain from the past, but in the final analysis those feelings and thoughts create a powerful “hold” on us. Advent is a time of year in the story of Christmas to move on through our heartaches and heartbrakes.

Ambrose, a servant of the church died on this day many years ago. He is attributed to having written the words to the hymn, “Savior of the Nations Come.” I am particularly taken by the second verse of the hymn:

Not by human flesh and blood,
but the mystic Breath of God,
was the Word of God made flesh,
fruit of woman, blossom fresh.


There is something about the “mystic Breath of God.” The Bible reminds us again and again that God speaks and something, someone, HAPPENS!

Peter sings,
“A year full of meanwhiles, hard times, good smiles
Suddenly the yuletide is near
Creeps in quietly, soon undeniably catches your heart
You’re part of the story of Christmas”


I pray today that what “catches your heart” is forgiveness, love, hope and peace.
The silly picture of me in the Kitchen at Camp Arcadia hopefully “stirs up” some laughter in you. May we “taste and see” that the Lord is good!

Joyfully,
rtg

Monday, December 6, 2010

Blue River TSOC 120610 Monday

TSOC 120610 Blue River
Monday
December 6, 2010
+Nicholas+, Bishop of Myra, died around 342




Peter sings,
“You can run
You can hide
You can die of thirst
By the riverside
Don’t leave me out
On the Blue River”


Advent is the season for waiting, watching, wanting, waking up and walking into the story of Christmas. We are searching and hunting for the real deal. Most people I know want their life to have meaning, purpose and authenticity. So, we are on a quest, a search
for the One who makes us whole and complete.

Peter’s song, Blue River documents the process of looking for love. His words are in alignment with a song written about 3,000 years ago. Psalm 42 goes like this,

“As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
2My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?”

In the story of Christmas there are places and spaces along the way that can be an oasis or that can be a mirage. Today as you look for a “Blue River” to nourish you soul, I invite you to be mindful of how you can serve God with the gifts you’ve been given.



John the Baptist used his gifts to be an “alarm clock” to rouse people from their sleep.
St. Nicholas used his gifts to seek out and serve those who were lost, imprisoned and excluded from the party. What is your particular gift that you bring to the story of Christmas? I know you know what it is. So, share it!

Joyfully,
rtg

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A SONG TO REMIND YOU TSOC 120510 2nd Sunday of Advent

TSOC 120510 A Song to Remind You
2nd Sunday of Advent
December 5, 2010




Peter sings,
“Joyful day
A star to guide you, a song to remind you
The Joy will stay
Long past the turn of the page
In the story of Christmas”

This morning congregations all over the world will hear a gospel lesson (Matthew 3:1-12) featuring the advent antics of a character called John the Baptist. Now, I know that some people wish his name was John the Methodist or John the Lutheran, but that’s just the way the story goes. Anyway, John the Baptist would do well in today’s world of sound bytes and Sunday morning talk shows. His message was full of conflict, warnings, and doom with a little bit of gloom sprinkled in for flavor. He was a combination of the following: Glenn Beck; Keith Olbermann; Jon Stewart; and Ann Coulter (in other words, he always had something to offend just about everyone!)

He didn’t have a church building or auditorium. Rather, he spoke on the banks of the river. His message was clear, concise and demanding,

"You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruit worthy of repentance. 9Do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

One of the gifts that I believe the Lutheran lens of theology brings to reading Scripture is the distinction between Law and Gospel. Some folks define the “Law” as what God declares we need to do. At the same time, some folks define “Gospel” as the Good News of what has been done for us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Now, I know this is kinda heavy stuff for a Sunday morning, with coffee, bagels and your ipad in front of you).

So, we do well to hear the Law and pay attention to it. But, what is very key and important to remember is that neither John the Baptist nor the Law is God’s final word to us. Fortunately, Jesus and the Gospel is what we focus our hearts, souls and minds on as we go through the story of Christmas.

Peter sings, “A song to remind you.” God has always been in the business of love songs.
There is a “chain of love” in this story of Christmas. You and I are connected, in fact linked to each other because of what has been done for us.
As we begin our 2nd week of this journey give thanks for the song that reminds us of what it is all about. As St. Paul and the Beatles sang, “all you need is love.”

Joyfully,
Rtg





A Text Message from St. Paul to the Corinthians:

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

STAR VIEW TSOC 120410 +John of Damascus+

TSOC 120410 Star View
December 4, 2010
Saturday
+John of Damascus +, theologian and hymnwriter, died around 749



Peter sings,

“Joyful day
A star to guide you, a song to remind you
The Joy will stay
Long past the turn of the page
In the story of Christmas”


On Tuesday several members of our staff participated in a group activity at the LDS Canning facility in Aurora. Under the able guidance and mentoring of canning personnel and along with some other wonderful volunteers from Metro CareRing donated apples were made into applesauce. We did it all from sorting apples to boxing up the finished product.




I am mindful of Father Dom’s words about bruised bananas in his marvelous book, Bake and Be Blessed. Those words have influenced my view of the bruised and tired apples which were in the large wooden containers. There was an abundance of apples in an orchard in the State of Washington. Somehow, someway via FEEDING AMERICA they found their way to Colorado. Some were bruised, brown and decomposing at a pretty quick rate. Some of us had the job of sorting “good apples” from “bad apples.” Having been a “bad apple” at times, I could readily recognize others. A few apples were well on their way to becoming “apple cider.” Teamwork, guidance, ingenuity and hard work brought about the result of applesauce. In other words there is always a way for the people of God to repurpose, to redeem and to recollect what others might throw away. Father Dom makes the excellent point that sometimes we treat people the way we treat fruit which has been bruised or banged up just a bit. God graciously gives us the vision to see more than what we initially look at with a first glance.

Thank goodness, thank God, that Advent is full of times to be blessed with a STAR VIEW of living. If you slice an apple in a lengthwise (the traditional way) you just cut the apple in half. However, if you cut it sideways you can see a STAR. It all depends how you look at it.




Peter sings,

“Joyful day
A star to guide you, a song to remind you
The Joy will stay
Long past the turn of the page
In the story of Christmas”

Let the STAR VIEW guide you today.

Joyfully,
Rtg

PS
A good friend of h2odevos, Nancy Bond serves in the country of Ghana. Here is a recent note from her:

Hi Pastor Ron,
We have a STAR program here at Rafiki Village Ghana! Our STAR (Story Time At Rafiki) is a favorite for our now 114 children. (Four new orphans arrived last Saturday).
Short term missionaries or our American staff read books to a cottage of children including moms. Afternoons at four pm, a cottage of boys or girls file into the dining hall, sit down quietly, and listen well to books chosen by the missionaries. Melinda (not my daughter) was here recently. Her favorite task was STAR in the afternoon.

Thanks for the H20 devos. They are an encouragement! They are a daily reminder that my favorite story is on its way…Christmas!
Yes, joyfully,
Nancy

Friday, December 3, 2010

SPARKS TSOC 120310 Friday, +Francis Xavier+ 1552

TSOC 120310 Sparks
December 3, 2010
Friday
+Francis Xavier, missionary to Asia, died 1552+



Peter sings,
“New colors dancing on evergreen branches
You feel a change in the wind
Brings new light to your eyes once again”


Yesterday, on my day off I made several batches of what I humbly call, “Glusenkamp Granola.” Two summers ago I saw a recipe in the New York Times for making granola with olive oil. Here’s the link http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/15/dining/151arex.html?ref=dining
Now, just by chance the first time I made the recipe I added by accident chocolate chips instead of coconut chips(it’s a common mistake among Glusenkamps). When I discovered the error of my ways I left the chocolate chips in the mix and added the coconut chips as well. Since that time I have continued to make a “mistake” on each occasion. I have also added sunflower seeds, as well as walnuts or cashews if I can’t find
raw pistachios. I’ve found that most people don’t like unshelled pistachios in their granola (live and learn).

Peter is singing about changes. There are colors dancing in the trees. The wind is a bit colder (at least in many places of the country). And the illumination and reflection of decorations brings new light to our eyes.

I’ve included a picture of Forrest who is in Second Grade. A few weeks ago all the Second grade students in our congregation received copies of SPARK Bibles. These Bibles published by Augsburg Fortress are very “user friendly.” The children and their parents were so excited to receive the Bibles. We also gave each child a jar of honey with the Bible passage, Ezekiel 3:2-3, 2So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. 3He said to me, Mortal, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it. Then I ate it; and in my mouth it was as sweet as honey. I learned this from Pastor Pam and Pastor Erik and the good people of Edina Community Lutheran Church. Young Christian, his parents and sibling as well as all of his classmates and parents are on a faith journey. One of our roles as a community of believers is to help pass on a “spark” so that their faith can blossom and grow. Pastor Ruth Ann, my colleague preached a “whale” of a sermon on that day. She spoke directly to the children (and let their parents and grandparents overhear the message).
http://www.bethany-denver2.org/church-life/sermons/?sermon_id=157

I know this is the second reference to the Wisdom of Sirach in one week. But, here’s a good reminder of how we can live as characters in “the story of Christmas,”

Sirach 28:12
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
yet both come out of your mouth.

So, we have the power to create and tear down (or in this instance) extinguish. I want you to intentionally imagine today how your breath might help a spark to glow.

Peter sings,
“New colors dancing on evergreen branches
You feel a change in the wind
Brings new light to your eyes once again”


Joyfully,
Rtg

Ps
Here’s a note from a reader/listener. I hope this “sparks” some of you to send in pictures, notes and ideas!






Dear Ron, Cynthia, and Peter,

I have attached a photo that I took when my wife Barb and I were in Asker Parish in Orebro, Sweden in July of 2009. It was the church that my Great Grandmother Clara Anderson Erickson Danielson and Great Grandfather Peter Erick Erickson attended in the 1880s before they emigrated to the United States.

It was taken when we were given a tour of the Asker Parish church of the Church of Sweden. We were climbing up the inside of the steeple to get a view of the countryside when I looked out the window and saw the cross. It is one of my favorite photos. I think seeing the cross through the star is very symbolic of Christmas
Please feel free to use the photo of the cross in the H2o Devotions if it fits in with your plans. Thanks,
Al Youngdahl & Barb Sanborn

Thursday, December 2, 2010

STIR UP TSOC 120210 Thursday, December 2

TSOC 120210 Stir Up
December 2, 2010
Thursday




Peter sings,
“Stirrin’ up the water
Stirrin’ up my soul
A light comes to the darkness
Come and make me whole
Oh stir it up, stir it up Oh Lord”


In “the story of Christmas” we find ourselves in many settings. I have always loved the way the collects or prayers of the day for each week of Advent begin, “Stir up, Oh Lord and come.” What I find amazing is that for 48 weeks of the year we often include in our prayers with words like “calm the storms of our lives” “Bring Peace and Serenity” and
“make straight the rough.” But, in “the story of Christmas” during these days and nights of Advent we pray and request that God might “Stir up and come.”

Every church I have ever served which includes parishes in Wichita, Kansas City, St. Louis and now, Denver has had a fairly decent sized industrial kitchen. I am sure these kitchens reflect the amazing food and faith connection which is embedded in our theological dna. I suppose it also testifies to the high value of community that we have traditionally held . The Psalmist was right when he sang, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34) For many folks that includes an invitation to the Fellowship Hall to have coffee and donuts. At the same time while acknowledging our desire for food and community there is also a tendency to be conflict avoiders. Of course, we all know there are things that lurk just below the surface of the waters, but for the most part we want our experience at church to be smooth sailing, like a pleasure cruise on the Good Ship Lollypop as opposed to a theological Titanic or protestant Poseidon Adventure.

And yet, we pray and say, “Stir up, Oh Lord and come.” So, there is this intention, a desire, a petition to experience the conflict of Advent. This interruption is as Peter sings,
“Stirrin’ up the water
Stirrin’ up my soul
A light comes to the darkness
Come and make me whole
Oh stir it up, stir it up Oh Lord”

God being the COSMIC BAKER that God is, has included us in the mix of this holy season. The conflict of Advent is to be “stirred up.” No longer can we simply go on our way, but rather we are stirred up and changed to “prepare the way of the Lord.”



The spoon collection pictured in today’s devo has been in my wife’s family for years. One of her aunts, by the name of Dorothy (which means “Gift of God”) collected spoons whenever she went some place. I’ve been in many homes of parishioners who also have collections of spoons. So, even though we have this nature to avoid conflict, there is also something or maybe SOMEONE who is nudging us to join the mix and be blended together for good, for God, for service, for worship.

In Psalm 80 we hear and read an ancient prayer to get “stirred up”

Stir up your might,
and come to save us!
3Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.

Centuries later, Peter echoes that desire and request,

“Stirrin’ up the water
Stirrin’ up my soul
A light comes to the darkness
Come and make me whole
Oh stir it up, stir it up Oh Lord”

Joyfully,
rtg

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

HOPE and LAZARUS TSOC 120110 -World Aids Day

TSOC 120110 Hope & Lazarus
Wednesday
December 1, 2010
WORLD AIDS DAY






“Still I feel like a wrapped up Lazarus,
Haven’t made sense of the mystery,
But it makes sense of me”
Still In One Peace by Peter Mayer
You can download a free copy of this song
http://petermayer.com/AUDIO/siop/PeterMayer-StillInOnePeace.mp3

One of my favorite Bible passages is Hebrews 11:1. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The entire 11th chapter of Hebrews is like a Hall of Fame for Faith. It is a family scrapbook full of brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas, sons and daughters who have been filled with faith. It is the Facebook of Faith!




The angel in the picture is named Hope. As you can see in the photo taken by Brenda Greenwald, Hope has a shadow. Sometime, you and I get to see the real deal and other times we only get to see the shadow. Delia Stewart designed Hope and as she likes to say, “Everyone needs a little Hope.” You can contact Delia at deliastewart@comcast.net

Today on World Aids Day there are folks who are living in the shadow of hope. You can raise awareness to what’s going on with this devastating disease in the world by checking out the following links
http://www.one.org/us/onesabbath/lazaruseffect.html

http://www.elca.org/Our-Faith-In-Action/Justice/Poverty-Ministries/HIV-and-AIDS/World-AIDS-Day-December-1.aspx

Peter sings about feeling like Lazarus. There are times when we get so wrapped up in the clothes of death that we can’t even move. But, I believe that Jesus stands outside the tomb and calls us to become ALIVE!
John 11:43 tells us about the scene at the tomb of Lazarus
When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

Some of the most alive people I know are the ones who have been diagnosed as being “terminal.” And at the same time some of the most Spiritual “zombies” I know are folks who think they are immortal. Go figure!
My friend, Dr. Donald Messer has a new book out called, Names, Not Just Numbers.
If you go to his website you will see a banner which reads, “WE ALL HAVE AIDS.”
http://

Another friend, Julie White (who works with Don) has created a ministry to hire
women in India who are hiv+ to sew and make beautiful quilts. You can check out her life-saving love at www.onemother.org A “tag line” on the website states, “sewing lives together.”

I invite you today to be an angel of HOPE! If you don’t know much about AIDS, then get informed. If you are informed, then do feel something. If you feel something and care, then DO SOMETHING. As Dr. Messer says, “KNOW, CARE, ACT!”

The story of Christmas includes characters like HOPE + LAZARUS.

Joyfully,
rtg

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's Good To Have a FRIEND TSOC 113010

TSOC 113010 It’s Good to have a Friend
Tuesday
November 30, 2010




Peter sings, “It’s good to have a friend.”
http://www.petermayer.com/AUDIO/MB/GoodToHaveAFriend.mp3

As the “story of Christmas” begins to unfold on a daily basis it’s good to add some
Spice into the mix. There is a book called the Wisdom of Sirach which didn’t make it into the 66 canonical books of the Old & New Testaments. However, in this book there are wise sayings. I am particularly fond of a line in chapter 6 verse 16,

A faithful friend is an elixir of life; and those who fear the Lord will find him.

I like the notion that a fried is the elixir or tonic or spice of life!

Peter sings, “It’s good to have a friend.”

Just stop for a moment and think about a friend of yours. Recall how he or she has been spice in your life. Conversely, spend a moment reflecting on how you have been a friend to another.

I have some cloves on my writing desk. I love the aroma they bring. I think of how on Easter Saturday I put the cloves in hot cross buns to represent the wounds of Christ.
My hands then give off a scent that is inviting and enticing. The cloves “stick out”
among the sweetness of the cross of icing.
In fact, the very name for cloves come from the French word for “nail.” You can learn more about cloves by checking out
http://www.food.com/library/clove-325

Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends” (John 15:13). What Jesus is talking about is spicier and deeper much deeper than “friends” on Facebook. Jesus is talking about love which is passionate and contagious.
I think Jesus “nails” it when he reminds us that love is the spice we are looking for.

Peter sings, “It’s good to have a friend.”

In the “story of Christmas” which is unfolding in front of us on a daily basis you and I are called to befriend the friendless. We are invited to be friends in an amazing love story.
I hope and pray you accept the request to be a friend today.

Peter sings, “It’s good to have a friend.”

Joyfully,
Rtg





The Story of Christmas

by Peter Mayer

New colors dancing on evergreen branches
You feel a change in the wind
Brings new light to your eyes once again

A year full of meanwhiles, hard times, good smiles
Suddenly the yuletide is near
Creeps in quietly, soon undeniably catches your heart
You’re part of the story of Christmas

Chorus
Joyful day
A star to guide you, a song to remind you
The Joy will stay
Long past the turn of the page
In the story of Christmas

Ribbons and strings, cold frozen streams
Forgotten dreams running wild
When every Mother and Father is a child

The song of an angel, good cheer to a stranger
The ones you’ve known all the way
Coming back to the heart of the matter to scatter the whistles and
bells
You’re telling the story of Christmas
Chorus