Dear Bob, here are some photos of my life here on the campus of Concordia Seminary. I love kids, working with the grounds crew, swimming, playing with my dog friends, and especially my own family people.
On this date in 1483, Martin Luther was born. Lutherans are getting set to observe a year long celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation begun by Luther in 1517. In San Antonio this past April I toured an old old Lutheran church filled with stained glass made up almost entirely of scenes from Lutheran church fathers.
This German is translated as God's Word and Luther's teaching shall unto all times end never.
Here is another of those windows.
On the seminary campus we light our Luther statue on Christmas, but for today, he seems to be celebrating his birthday.
Yesterday was filled with people, music, food and beautiful weather. Holy Cross put on its annual Wurstmart featuring great sausage and many side dishes. Many members of the church work really hard to make this annual day a success.
The customers wait in the gym before being sent to tables
The carry out area as also in the gym this year which made it much easier on those who carried out and those who worked there.
The serving line for those who ate in was in the cafeteria
At 4:00 the seminary was the location of the first of several services and celebrations coming in future months commemorating the 2017 500th anniversary of the Reformation begun by Martin Luther. The chapel was filled to the brim and the singing and music shook the rafters.
Afterward as it was getting dark there was beer and brats for all out be the fountain.
Dale preached at a church in south St. Louis city this past Sunday and I was transfixed by the stained glass windows, I've never seen any quite like this. The images represented stories from scripture and done in an artistic style which eluded me but fascinated my at the same time. There were windows along both sides of the sanctuary and all had the same bordered tree of life image and two angels next to the bread of wine of the sacrament at the bottom. The story element was in the middle of the windows.
Take this window for example.
According to a pamphlet the church has produced explaining the windows, this represents Jesus at age 12 discussing the scriptures in the temple in front of the elders of the church. I looked at this a long time, fascinated by the expressions and body language of the church priests.
This weekend was filled with events revolving around the first ever Alumni reunion for Holy Cross Lutheran School. Almost 300 people attended a dinner at the VFW on Saturday night and Sunday morning continued the fellowship between services. What struck me most was the happiness and joy surrounding the weekend. You could sense this by the sheer volume of talk and laughter which never stopped. The food was great, the stories fun, the memorabilia displayed was riveting. Our new pastor played the banjo with the only song he knew...or so he said. Good times. Here's a short glimpse of Saturday night.
Former principal and former Athletic Director
Former teacher, Cindy Davis Hammond with her husband and daughter. She's now principal at a school in western Missouri.
A table of Holy Crossers. Hi Louis!
The reunion committee
There was even a photo area and photo booth where families and friends could have their pictures taken
An impromptu choir lead everyone in the school fight song
The food was catered by Ravenelli's and I give lots of props to the two young women who handled this all by themselves. They carried and lifted and moved food into and off the table all night. Heavy pans. They were consistently cheerful.
And there was one woman doing the bartending dealing with constant long lines and she was just as pleasant.
Didn't really need any encouragement to laugh but fun anyway.
A great night
And most fitting, a Kruta Bakery cake on Sunday morning.
Our church, Holy Cross Lutheran in Collinsville, has a Comfort Dog named Esther. She came to us last fall and has been a blessing to many as she goes to nursing homes, hospitals, schools, places where tragedy has occurred etc, any place where people need a bit of love and kindness. She turned 2 today and the congregation threw her a party.
Here's a photo of Esther with all the Holy Cross people who take turns as her handlers.
And she was surprised by her Comfort Dog friend, Sheba who came to help celebrate. Sheba lives and works in Washington Missouri
Our pastor preached on the Gospel text Luke 15:11-32 yesterday which was on the Prodigal Son, a young man who'd taken his inheritance early and squandered it on all the wrong things. When he was broke and desperate he came home hoping for nothing more than to be a servant in his father's house but who was welcomed back wholeheartedly by his father. And of course the good brother who'd stayed and worked faithfully was jealous and resentful.
What stuck with me were two things from our pastor about this. 1. As much as we tend to look at the prodigal son and his antics being finally accepted back just as we are when God looks at us when we mess up, we're often as not more like the brother who was upset that someone who made a mess of his life in bad living could be taken back. We make snide comments about Easter and Christmas church goers, wonder aloud about people who come back to church after making botch all of their lives. We're so good, why should they be accepted back.
It gave me a new perspective on myself and I've thought about this since yesterday morning.
2. "The rich man ran to greet his returning son." Our pastor then said after this quote: "The rich don't run." I loved this and it's true, the rich have people. But God runs to us when we come to Him.
Oddly and probably not so coincidentally, two major newspapers have stories/editorials today on the urgent need to stop Donald Trump. An editorial in the Washington Post is headed this way: "GOP leaders, you must do everything in your power to stop Trump." There's a front page story on that site as well dealing with this. The New York Times has a front page header dealing with several stories on this issue: "GOP Fears What's Next If Trump Can't Be Stopped".
All of a sudden our media/journalistic world is worried Trump can't be stopped. They have been enablers of this guy since day 1. First it was a great and funny story no one took seriously but he was good copy. From then on he was the headline, the lead in every news cast and every cable and network news program to the detriment of all the others running. So they aren't innocent in all this Trump mania. So what's different all of a sudden.
I'd be lying if I wasn't cynical about the news people's motives. Why do they suddenly want the GOP to knock him out? I'd venture that being the left leaning people they are, they are suddenly worried that Trump has the distinct possibility of beating Hillary Clinton as well as all the republicans. That this is suddenly the story after months of non stop reporting on Trump and mostly only Trump, is questionable. I'd guess the word has gone out among the media that they have to work to stop Trump for the sake of the GOP but underlying that is for the sake of the democrats.
Hey Media. How about you begin demanding real answers from Trump to questions instead of loud brags.
Yesterday afternoon Holy Cross held a service of installation for its new pastor. The music was amazing, the church was full, many area pastors took part in the laying on of hands in blessing and even though it was the coldest day in over a year, the day was wonderful.
Before the service the new pastor's ceremonial chair was in place, the choirs practiced and the visiting pastors robed up in the church basement.
Then the processional and service began
The readings were done by 3 of the pastors who are members of Holy Cross and helped during this vacancy year. Dale was the 4th pastor during the vacancy and he preached the sermon.
Pastor Ritter who did the most heavy lifting this year.
Music director Karen Shimkus did a fantastic job preparing the service and music and choirs.
Adult choir, school choir from the balcony, handbells, and brass.
Then the installation
LCMS Southern Illinois District President Timothy Scharr did the installing.
When that finished, Pastor Wright was given the service book and concluded the service with prayers and benediction.
One photo was taken with all the pastors who are members of or grew up at Holy Cross
Pastor Wright with his parents who came in from the DC area of Virginia and his wife Keri
Pastor and his family which includes 4 daughters, 3 of whom are triplets.