Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles

Festival of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles
June 29, 2010

The Lord be with you

The festival of St. Peter and St. Paul is probably the oldest of the saints’ observances (dating from about the middle of the third century). An early tradition held that these two pillars of the New Testament Church were martyred on the same day in Rome during the persecution under Nero. In addition to this joint commemoration of their deaths, both apostles are commemorated separately: Peter on January 18 for his confession of Jesus as the Christ (Matthew 16:13-16) and Paul on January 25 for his conversion (Acts 9:1-19).

The New Testament tells us much about both apostles. Peter was with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry and served as a leader among the disciples. Despite his steadfast faith, Scripture also records some of his failures, such as his rebuke of Jesus (Matthew 16:21-23) and his threefold denial of his Lord (Matthew 26:69-75). Following Jesus’ ascension, Peter continued as a leader in the Church (Acts 1:15; 21:14; 15:7).

Paul, a devout Jew also known as Saul, entered the scene as a persecutor of the Church. Following his miraculous conversion, in which the risen Christ Himself appeared to him, Paul became a powerful preacher of the grace of God. During his three missionary journeys (Acts 13-14; 16-18; 18-21), Paul traveled throughout modern-day Turkey and Greece. The New Testament account of his life ends with Paul under house arrest in Rome (Acts 28:16), though tradition holds that he went on to Spain before returning to Rome.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ireanaeus of Lyons

Commemoration of Irenaeus of Lyons, Pastor
June 28, 2010

The Lord be with you

June 28 has been set aside on our liturgical calendars to remember Irenaeus of Lyons. He lived from around 130 to 200 AD and is believed to be a native of Smyrna (modern Izmir, Turkey). He studied in Rome and later became pastor in Lyons, France. Around 177 AD, while Irenaeus was away from Lyons, a fierce persecution of Christians led to the martyrdom of his bishop. Upon Irenaeus’s return, he became the second bishop of Lyons. Among his most famous writings is a work condemning heresies, especially Gnosticism, which denied the goodness of creation. In opposition, Irenaeus confessed that God has redeemed his creation through the incarnation of the Son. Irenaeus also affirmed the teachings of the Scriptures handed down to and through him as being normative for the Church. This defense against heretics with novel ideas provided by some sort of “special” knowledge remains the bulwark of the Church today. The Bible is our Faith’s solid foundation. Because Irenaeus provided lengthy quotes from the heretics he opposed and whose works would otherwise have been lost, we have a much clearer understanding of what they believed. He also provides us a clear witness to the New Testament books that were received in his day and age. They are the same we have today. He clearly taught that “the ground and pillar of our faith” is the Scriptures “handed down to us” “by the will of God.” Unlike many of his contemporaries, Irenaeus was raised in a Christian home, probably baptized as an infant by Polycarp. Polycarp was a student of St. John.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Convention Resolution on Slavery

Commemoration of Jeremiah
June 26, 2010

The Lord be with you

The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod will be meeting in convention July 10-17 in Houston, TX. It has as its theme: One People Forgiven. The book “Today’s Business,” already sent out to every LC-MS congregation, contains all the proposed resolutions. As I have mentioned in earlier posts on this blog, there was an overture sent to the Synod from the Southeastern District which had its beginnings in our adult Sunday school class. As these things wind through the process changes are inevitable made. One change I really like is the second “resolved.” The resolution I’m writing about is titled “To Support Efforts to End Human Trafficking/Slavery,” resolution 6-07, on page 116 of Today’s Business. I truly hope this resolution passes and I think it stands by itself without me giving a big long argument for it. Therefore I am reproducing the resolution below for you to see its current form.

WHEREAS, The United Nations reports that human trafficking is a thriving business today with a total annual market value of 32 billion dollars; and

WHEREAS, The United Nations reports that at any given time 2.5-2.7 million people throughout the world are “recruited, entrapped, transported, and exploited” in a “process called human trafficking”; and

WHEREAS, The United Nations reports that persons from 127 countries become exploited in 137 nations; and

WHEREAS, trading in “bodies and souls of human beings” is specifically condemned by the Bible (Rev. 18:13); and

WHEREAS, Saint Paul lists slave traders in 1 Timothy 1:10 (“enslavers” in the ESV) in his list of heinous sinners who oppose God’s Law and act contrary to the sound doctrine of the Gospel (1 Tim. 1:8-11); and

WHEREAS, Saint Paul in his letter to Philemon urged Philemon to free the slave Onesimus, not under compulsion but as a free act of Christian charity (Philemon 12-16, 21); and

WHEREAS, Saint Paul urges us, as we have opportunity, to “do good to all” (Gal. 6:10); and

WHEREAS, As Christians living in the United States we have a history that enables us to understand the horrors and degradation involved in human trafficking/slafery; therefore be it

Resolved, That the Synod in convention direct the President of the Synod to write a letter to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime expressing the Synod’s prayerful support of that office’s efforts to end the ongoing practice of human trafficking/slave trade; and be it further

Resolved, That the Synod in convention direct the Board for Human Care Ministries to provide the Synod’s pastors and congregations with information about this practice and to assist in efforts to end the ongoing practice of human trafficking/slave trade; and be it finally

Resolved, That the Synod encourage its pastors and lay people to become educated regarding this issue and to be proactive in their response, including, but not limited to, sending letters to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime expressing their prayerful support of that office’s efforts to end human trafficking/slavery.


One final note: The United States of America is one of the 137 nations in the world today where you can find slaves. This is not just a problem "over there" or in Muslim nations. It is in our own backyard.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Commemoration of Jeremiah

Commemoration of Jeremiah
June 26, 2010

The Lord be with you

The prophet Jeremiah was active as God’s prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah around 627 to 582 BC. As a prophet he predicted, witnessed, and lived through the Babylonian siege and eventual destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. In his preaching, he often used symbols, such as an almond rod and a boiling pot (Jeremiah 1:11-14), wine jars (13:12-14), and a potter at work (18:1-17). His entire prophetic ministry was a sermon, communicating through word and deed God’s anger toward His rebellious people. Jeremiah suffered repeated rejection and persecution by his countrymen. As far as can be known, Jeremiah died in Egypt, having been taken there forcibly. He is remembered and honored for fearlessly calling God’s people to repentance.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

The Augsburg Confession

Commemoration of Jeremiah
June 26, 2010

The Lord be with you

Yesterday, June 25, was the Commemoration of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession. The Augsburg Confession is the principal doctrinal statement of the theology of Martin Luther and the Lutheran reformers. It was written largely by Philip Melanchthon. At its heart, it confesses the justification of sinners by grace alone, through faith alone, for the sake of Christ alone. Signed by leaders of many German cities and regions, the confession was formally presented to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at Augsburg, Germany, on June 25, 1530 (hence the name of the confession and the date selected to commemorate it). A few weeks later, Roman Catholic authorities rejected the Confession, which Melanchthon defended in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession (1531). In 1580, the Unaltered Augsburg Confession was included in the Book of Concord, which contains all the confessions of the Lutheran Church.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist
June 24, 2010

The Lord be with you

Today is the Festival of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. St. John, the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, was born into a priestly family. His birth was miraculously announced to his father by an angel of the Lord (Luke 1:5-23), and on the occasion of his birth, his aged father proclaimed a hymn of praise (Luke 1:67-79). This hymn is entitled the Benedictus and serves as the traditional Gospel Canticle in the Church’s Service of Morning Prayer. Events of John’s life and his teaching are known from accounts in all four of the Gospels, as well as the first century Jewish historian Josephus. In the wilderness of Judea, near the Jordan River, John began to preach a call to repentance and a baptismal washing, and he told the crowds, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). John denounced the immoral life of the Herodian rulers, with the result that Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, had him arrested and imprisoned in the huge fortress of Machaerus near the Dead Sea. There Herod had him beheaded (Mark 6:17-29). John is remembered and honored as the one who with his preaching pointed to “the Lamb of God” and “prepared the way” for the coming of the messiah.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Worship for Pentecost 5

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist
Thursday after Pentecost 4
June 24, 2010

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost. It is also the Commemoration of Cyril of Alexandria, Pastor and Confessor. As we will not be doing anything special to recognize Cyril this Sunday, I thought I’d just say a few words now. Cyril lived from around 376 to 444 and became archbishop of Alexandria, Egypt, in 412. Throughout his career, he defended a number of orthodox (and therefore biblical) doctrines, among them the teaching that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is “rightly called and truly is the Mother of God” – Theotokos, “the God-bearer.” (The Lutheran Confessions use this terminology. See, for example, the Formula of Concord VIII 12.) In 431 the Council of Ephesus affirmed this teaching that the Son of Mary is also true God. The writings of Cyril on the doctrines of the Trinity and the person of Christ reveal him to be one of the most able theologians of his time. Cyril’s Christology influenced subsequent Church councils and was a primary source for Lutheran confessional writings. This information was found in Treasury of Daily Prayer, published by Concordia Publishing House.

Sunday we will be using the first setting of the worship service in Lutheran Service Book, beginning on page 151. This will be a Communion service. The appointed lessons are 1 Kings 19:9b-21; Galatians 5:1, 13-25; and Luke 9:51-62. The sermon is titled “When Grace Fails” and the text will be Luke 9:53.

Presumably everybody is familiar now with “O Love How Deep” as we have sung it four week in a row. Therefore we will move to another hymn our hymnal review committee recommended as worth learning by Lamb of God. That hymn is “O Jesus So Sweet, O Jesus So Mild” (546). I’m not sure why Lamb of God does not know this song as it dates back to the days of the Reformation and is loved by believers around the world. It will be our opening hymn. The following video is of a Presbyterian choir singing this hymn.





Sunday’s sermon hymn will be “Just as I Am, without One Plea” (570). The distribution hymns will be “Soul, Adorn Yourself with Gladness” (636), “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” (549), and “By Grace I’m Saved” (566). The closing hymn will be “Sent Forth by God’s Blessing” (643).

Preview of the Lessons

1 Kings 19:9b-21: This is part of the story of Elijah. He was one of the non-writing prophets. What we know of him comes from the historical books of the Old Testament. This account is after the showdown between Elijah, the prophet of God, and the prophets of Baal (or you could say between God and Baal, but as Baal doesn’t really exist, and God does, it sounds silly to say it was a showdown between God and nothing). After the devastating defeat of the prophets of Baal, Queen Jezebel determined to kill Elijah. Elijah fled and we pick-up the story while he is on the “mountain of God.” He is despondent, believing he is the last believer alive. Great signs of power are manifested, a mighty wind, an earthquake, and a fire, but God was not present in any of these displays. Then Elijah hears a whisper. In that whisper God manifested himself. Elijah is comforted, assured, and recommissioned by the Lord. There is a real contrast here in how man acts and desires God to act with how God does act. Jezebel flexes her power. Elijah wants God to flex his mussel. If God is really all-powerful why doesn’t he go knock some heads together? Elijah could have seen that such power-plays are not effective evangelism tools when the defeat of the prophets of Baal didn’t lead to a mass conversion of the nation of Israel. God is faithful in keeping his promises, but he seldom works in the ways we would. Our plans are shaped by our fallen nature. God’s goal isn’t vengeance but salvation.

Galatians 5:1, 13-25: The Galatian Church was troubled by teachers that taught works of the Law as a necessary element to salvation (1:6-9). The church had broken into factions, each contending for which works of the Law they felt was necessary for salvation. (Paul calls this returning “again to a yoke of slavery.”) Paul writes, holding high salvation by grace through faith (2:16 is the central verse of Galatians). He clearly describes dissension and power plays as the works of the flesh while grace and faith are the fruit of the Spirit. As believers we are to not to use the weapons of the flesh but to walk in the Spirit.

Luke 9:51-62: In this reading the people in a Samaritan village refused to receive Jesus because “his face was set to go to Jerusalem.” There was a lot of bad blood between the Jews and Samaritans. James and John want to call down fire upon the village. Like Elijah and some of the members of the Church in Galatia, they thought a demonstration of awesome power was the way to go. But Christ refuses their request, preferring to deal with the people in grace and with patience. Christ goes on to speak of true discipleship, which means putting Jesus first and not the desires of the flesh or attachments to even the good gifts God has given us.

Sunday’s Collect

Lord of all power and might, author and giver of all good things, graft into our hearts the love of Your name and nourish us with all goodness that we may love and serve our neighbor; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Gradual (Romans 10:15b; Isaiah 52:7b, alt.)

How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news,
who publish peace and bring good news of salvation.
Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.

Verse (Luke 9:51)

Alleluia. When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. Alleluia.

Introit (Psalm 85:8-10, 13; antiphon: verse 7)

Show us your steadfast love, O LORD,
and grant us your salvation.
Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land.
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Righteousness will go before him
and make his footsteps a way.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Show us your steadfast love, O LORD,
and grant us your salvation.

Adult Bible Study

We continue, in our adult Bible class, our series titled Puzzlers and Questions About the Bible. Every week we deal with a question submitted by someone. There are a number of questions that have been submitted that, no matter how hard I might try, simply will not take up an hour long Bible Study so I’m grouping them together and calling the studies “Shotgun.” This week we will do Shotgun III. It has three questions: 1) Luke 22:35-36 seems to be an inconsistent use of the word sword by Jesus. He seems to be telling the apostles to do a physical thing, and to arm themselves. Yet sword in so many other verses refers to God’s word like Ephesians 6:17 and Revelation 1:16. 2) Why did the demons Jesus cast out ask to be sent into the herd of pigs? 3) 1 Corinthians 14:4 – Why “edifieth himself”? Join us Sunday morning at 9:00 AM as we dig deeper into the Word of God.

The July Newsletter will be available Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Monday, June 21, 2010

Vacation, Last Day and Final Thought

Monday after Pentecost 4
First Day of Summer
June 21, 2010

The Lord be with you

Well we arrived home last night. Kitty and I got to bed after midnight. We began the day in St. Louis and ended in Spartanburg. It was a great trip, but we were all glad to be home. Before leaving St. Louis we went to see the Arch. Again it is amazing what imagination and determination can accomplish. This thing is huge! We rode up and took pictures. Then it was on the road again. We did stop for a sit down dinner. Back in the South, no one was cold. The snow of Yellowstone was a distant memory.

Here in the South we have lightning bugs (AKA fire bugs) in June. I learned something new about them as we returned home. If one hits your windshield in the night they continue to glow on your windshield for a short time.

While we were in South Dakota I saw a sign in one of those endless gift shops. This one said, “Drink more coffee and do stupid things faster and with more energy.” As I drink a lot of coffee it struck me as funny.

A parting thought: While it was really impressive to see the things man has made, they paled in comparison to the things God has made.

Just a few final pictures from our last day:

1. Rachel, Gregory, Dixie and Kitty at the top of the arch
2. Rachel and Dixie looking out of a window at the top of the arch
3. The shadow of the arch as seen from the top of the arch
4. How big is the arch? Fingertip to fingertip, Gregory, Kitty, Rachel and Dixie don’t even come close to reaching across the base.
5. The arch. Look at how small the people are.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert





Sunday, June 20, 2010

Vacation, Day 20

Saturday after Pentecost 3
June 19, 2010
Vacation, Day 20

The Lord be with you

We woke up South Dakota and drove east on I 90. We went through Iowa and ended up in Saint Louis, Missouri. Once again we are staying in a Motel 6. The weather was beautiful and grew warmer as we traveled throughout the day. The landscape is looking more and more like the upstate. However, as we traveled all day, stopping only for dinner at an Applebee’s, I really don’t have much to say. I can report that all five of us are finishing this trip, and we still like each other.

Tomorrow we will view the famous arch here in St. Louis, and then head home. Arrival time is expected to be before midnight.

I did think of a possible pro-life bumper sticker today: “Global Warming may kill millions of people someday; Abortion is killing millions of people now.”

The pictures below are:

1. Iowa landscape
2. Missouri landscape
3. This giant car was where we filled-up the GMC in South Dakota
4. We got lunch at “Taco John's”
5. Kitty, Gregory and Dixie in the back seat

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert






Saturday, June 19, 2010

Vacation, Day 19

Friday after Pentecost 3
June 18, 2010
Vacation, Day 19

The Lord be with you

Today we woke up in Montana, drove through Wyoming, and are spending the night in South Dakota. We are in the Sioux Motel and I don’t remember the town’s name. While in South Dakota we visited Mount Rushmore and spent a couple of hours in a small town (population 311) named Keystone at the foot or Rushmore. The work and end result of this project is truly impressive. It is amazing what imagination and determination can accomplish.

The landscape we have seen is again beautiful. There is no doubt as to why Montana is the “big sky” state. There has been rolling hills and land to the horizon in each state. For much of the day we could still see the Grand Titons Mountains to our south. The weather was much warmer, reaching into the 70’s.

I would like to give a nod to the fine people in the state of Wyoming. It has resisted the siren call to tax the gullible. Of course the states do not call it a voluntary tax on gullible people. They call it a state lottery. This form of legalized gambling, I guess, I am most opposed to. It puts the state in the position of not only permitting gambling, but actually promoting gambling. If the state actively promotes something then it is perceived by the gullible as desirable, good, positive, and proper. So many people spend way too much money on useless scraps of paper instead of education, food, rent, or even going out to the movies. Wyoming has not legalized any form of gambling. Good for them!

While in South Dakota we passed into Central Time, “loosing” another hour. So now it is 1:00 AM here, 3:00 AM in San Diego, and midnight back home in South Carolina. It is getting hard to know how late I am staying up.

The following pictures were taken today. They are:

1. Somewhere either in Montana or Wyoming, the Grand Titons are in the background
2. Probably South Dakota
3. Mt. Rushmore
4. Gregory, Rachel and Dixie at Mt. Rushmore
5. Kitty could join the presidents on Mt. Rushmore

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert








Vacation, Day 18, Pictures

Friday after Pentecost 3
June 18, 2010
Vacation, Day 19

The Lord be with you

Yesterday I was unable to post any pictures, so the following pictures are what I would have posted if I had posted pictures. They are:

1. Most of us at Old Faithful
2. Old Faithful going off
3. Kepler Falls
4. Some Elk we saw (not the ones that chased Dixie)
5. Mammoth Mineral Springs
6. Sunset as we left Yellowstone

The Lord be with you
Pastor John Rickert





Friday, June 18, 2010

Vacation, Day 18

Thursday after Pentecost 3
June 17, 2010
Vacation, Day 18

The Lord be with you

We woke up this morning in Idaho. We drove into Yellowstone in Wyoming (the west entrance). We left through the north entrance and into Montana. We ended the day in Billings, staying in a Motel 6. By driving the extra 100 plus miles away from Yellowstone we saved over $100.00 per room. However, as I downloaded everyone’s pictures (and had a little difficulty) it is after 2:00 AM as I sit down to write about today’s adventures.

First, we could see some of Idaho in the light this morning. It is much greener than Arizona, and certainly a beautiful state. Traffic is slow in Yellowstone so it took about three hours to get to Old Faithful. We just missed one blow so looked at the gift stores while waiting for the next show. It is beautiful. We then ate lunch in the cafeteria and watched a second display of Old Faithful’s power. Geysers are a true wonder. We spent the rest of the day exploring the park and taking many pictures (I alone took over 300). We saw bears, deer, buffaloes, and elk. One elk chased Dixie. We say a beautiful waterfall, some wondrous mineral springs, and a great sunset as we left the park.

At Old Faithful the park has a camera that broadcasts on the internet. Several of our friends around the country, including my sister Claire and Rachel’s husband Philip, saw us on that internet camera.

In South Carolina, June is a hot month. Temperatures can get into the 100’s. Well the same is not true of June in Yellowstone, at least today. It was snowing! It was a good thing that we were all wearing long pants!

I really can’t say anything about Montana as it was nighttime as we drove through.

As I only have one bar here on my wireless internet, and therefore it takes forever to post the pictures, I will wait until tomorrow to post today’s pictures.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Vacation, Day 17

Wednesday after Pentecost 3
June 16, 2010
Vacation, Day 17

The Lord be with you

Today can be summed up with just two words: We drove. The day started with breakfast at a Waffle place in Sacramento. Then we headed east and left California, entered Utah, drove east for hours, headed north into Idaho, then east again until we reached Idaho Falls. We lost an hour as we entered Mountain Time. When we reached Idaho Falls we discovered that almost every room was full due to an Idaho Cities Convention in town. However, after checking six or more hotels we found rooms in “Motel West.” It is a nice place, large rooms, and is costing us what we had planned to pay at a Motel 6.

It has been cold and windy all day. The area is all High Desert.

The sun was setting as we entered Idaho, so I can’t really say much about the land. However we crossed over the Snake River as we entered. I’ve heard about this river all my life. Now I’ve taken some pictures of it. I also took a picture of the Idaho sunset.

As we drove through Utah it looked like we were in an old John Ford Western. There is a stark majestic beauty to the landscape.

We are about two hours from Yellowstone. We are planning to leave at 8:00 tomorrow morning, which probably means 9:00 or 9:30.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. They are:

1. California
2. Utah
3. Utah
4. Utah
5. The Snake River
6. Idaho Sunset

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert






Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Vacation, Day 16

Tuesday after Pentecost 3
July 15, 2010
Day 16, Vacation

The Lord be with you

We woke-up in San Francisco. I did not sleep all that well because I left my C-Pap machine in the car and the car had been parked by a valet so I couldn’t go back and get it. So, even though it isn’t quite 11:00 PM as I begin to write this, I am dead tired. (You better believe that I brought my C-Pap in with us tonight!)

We got our car and drove down to Fisherman’s Warf where we parked it for the day. We did many of the traditional tourist things, including riding on the cable cars, visiting Ghirardelli Square, eating seafood, visiting China town, going down Lombard Street, and shopping.

My general impressions of San Francisco are diverse. First, and this is no doubt because of the areas we saw, it is set up for tourists. That means that everything is overpriced. It also means that there are many more things to see and do than can be accomplished in one day. There are countless shops and restaurants. You can take boat trips, visit WWII ships and old sailing vessels, visit Alcatraz, and much more. Some are interesting, some are not. For example, Ghirardelli Square was a disappointment to me. They haven’t made chocolate there for over 30 years. It is just a string of shops. On the other hand, the cable cars are a blast. Different things will appeal to different people.

My second impression is the amazing architecture of the city. Their downtown is filled with skyscrapers, and the designs are quite imaginative. The older sections of town have many five-story buildings with very distinctive designs. There is great care taken of the public places as well, green grass, blooming flowers, and the like. There is also an abundance of public art objects, some I appreciated, some I didn’t.

The third observation the city has no control over. It was cold. There was a stead cold wind blowing off the ocean.

The next observation is something of a black eye. There were two groups of people we ran into. Group one is tourists. They are generally having a good time. The second group is locals. Among the locals there seemed to be a larger proportion that come across as desperate than you would expect. There are homeless people, people walking through the streets cussing, I even saw one panhandler with a sign asking for spare change so he could buy some “weed” (marijuana). A local T.V. news program I watched did not have a single positive story to report. They did run two stories that cast Christianity in a less than positive light. The buses had pro-homosexual propaganda plastered on their sides as they tried to dumb-up support for a cure for AIDS. (By-the-way, I do support research for the cure of AIDS, just as a support ethical research for the cure of all life-threatening diseases.) While on the cable car we went by Nob Hill, where I saw advertised in large letters an all-male nude review. I could go on, but I will not. There just seemed to be an abundance of spiritual poverty in the city.

Now I really can’t say that the spiritual poverty of San Francisco is greater than LA. We were only in LA for a couple of hours. However in that time we ran into a disagreeable traffic officer and a drunk (and it was not even 11:00 AM) who kept trying to get into everyone’s pictures that they were taking in front of the Mann’s Chinese Theater. Maybe it was just the places we visited. Still the dark undercurrent is present.

Before we left the city we went over the Golden Gate Bridge, even though it was out of our way. Then we headed out to spend the night in Sacramento. Tomorrow we will see Yellowstone. All in all, we had a great time, as I hope the following pictures will bear witness to. They are:

1. The view as we drove down Lombard Street.
2. Dixie and Rachel are ready to enjoy some seafood.
3. Gregory on the Cable Car.
4. Rachel and Kitty on the Cable Car.
5. Kitty in China Town.
6. Gregory and Dixie with a “silver” man.
7. Kitty and I in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.
8. Gregory and Dixie in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert








Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Vacation, Day 15

Monday after Pentecost 3
June 14, 2010
Vacation, Day 15

The Lord be with you

We got up, packed the car, said our goodbyes, and were on the road by 8:30 AM. We were on Interstate 5 headed north by 9:00. Our first real stop was Hollywood. We saw the Hollywood sign from the interstate, but no one took a picture. Oh well, I guess everyone in Spartanburg will have to take our word on that one.

We spent about an hour in Hollywood, walking by Mann’s Chinese Theater where we saw the hand and foot prints in cement (Mary Pickford had REALLY small feet, but Shirley Temple’s feet were even smaller.) Top Chef was filming an episode while we were there. There was a Hard Rock CafĂ© store, but the restraunt will not open until next month. Our parking place was only for one hour, so we hustled back, only to fine we had a parking ticket anyways. They clean the street we parked on each Monday. It was posted with two tinny signs. There were ample one hour parking signs, but these two tiny signs warned that everyone had to be off the street by noon. We were back by 12:10, and got there just as the grumpy ticket giver was finishing writing the ticket. All he could say is that we should pay more attention to posted signs in the future. $60.00! Welcome to LA.

We headed north to San Francisco on I-5. This takes us through “the valley.” This is one of the richest farming areas in the U.S., boasting 9 of the 10 top produce producing counties in America. Unlike other times I’ve been through this area, this time many fields were brown. In many places we saw signs saying “Congress Created Dust Bowl.” Most of the water used in all of California comes from a river delta in northern California. It travels south through the California Aquifer. In order to deliver all this water powerful pumps are used. A few years back an environmental group brought suit against the California government charging that the pump threatened the existence of a smelt fish (about two inches long). A federal judge agreed and ordered the amount of water pumped greatly reduced. The California congress determined who would have to have their water reduced. Cities have many voters, farming areas do not. Not surprisingly, the cities can still have green lawns but much of the farm lands are left without water. Entire orchards have died and many fields are brown. The result will be green lawns in Sacramento but higher produce prices in America as we have to import more and more food. Of course the farmers that can get water still can grow their crops.

We arrived in San Francisco around 7:00 PM. We are staying in a Super 8 Hotel that has a “Sam Spade” feel to it. Next door is a Moroccan restaurant named Marrakech. We chose to eat there as only Kitty and I have eaten Moroccan food before. We sat on very low couches (in Moroccan they actually sit on pillows, but the low couches are a concession to us westerners). Warm water was poured over our hands before the meal. I can’t tell you want all we ate, but it was exotic. The kids tried some of everything, and liked most of it. Rachel and the children were surprised when they found out that some of the food was meant to be eaten with the hands. We again has warm scented water poured over our hands at the end of the meal. Part of the evening’s entertainment was a belly dancer. The custom is to place a tip into some part of her costume. We let Gregory do so. I wasn’t sure if we would ever stop laughing.

The pictures below are:
1. Final goodbyes in San Diego.
2. Kitty and Mary Pickford’s hands are the same size
3. A dead grove of trees
4. Brown California crop land with the Aquifer flowing through it
5. Me & Kitty at the Moroccan restaurant
6. Gregory leaves a tip

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert






Monday, June 14, 2010

Vacation, Day 14

Sunday, Pentecost 3
June 13, 2010
Vacation, Day 14

The Lord be with you

As many of you know, Kitty and I were raised in San Diego (though neither of us was born here). As such we have plenty of friends and family in San Diego. That means there is always more people to see, and things people want us to see, than we have time. Worship services are a clear example of this. My sister Claire and her husband are members of Christ Lutheran in La Mesa. My nephew Andy and his wife Laura are members of Grace Lutheran in downtown (where we worshiped last week). Diane (Kitty’s step-mom) is a member of St. Paul’s in Pacific Beach (I also went to sixth grade at their school). We were members of Holy Cross in Clairemont. To squeeze in as much as possible we went to the 8:00 AM service this morning at St. Paul’s. We then went to breakfast and the 10:00 AM service at Holy Cross. Rachel and the children went to Christ. What follows is my impressions of the services Kitty and I attended.

St. Paul’s Lutheran has a low-liturgical style. By that I mean that there is no epistle stand in the sanctuary, when the pastor preaches he does not use the pulpit (instead he stands near the front pew in the center of the sanctuary), they project elements of the worship service onto two large empty wall spaces that other churches would use for banners, announcements were made in the middle of the service, and really there was not a whole lot of the traditional liturgy used. Like Grace last week, only an epistle and Gospel lesson was read. The pastor does vest. The Lord’s Supper is offered the first and third Sundays of the month, so there was no Communion today. There was no children’s message. I noted that at the 9:30 service the children are dismissed to attend a children’s church. Though the traditional liturgy was absent, the rhythm of the traditional liturgy was clearly present. Psalm 40 was used for the confession of sins. An absolution was given. “We All Believe” (LSB 953) was used for the confession of faith. A sermon was given and prayers offered. Like Grace last week, they are doing a summer sermon series. Their series began this week and is on 1 Corinthians 13 (the love chapter of the Bible). One interesting thing is that ALL their bulletins are large print. The sermon, given by Pastor Jim Henkell, was based on the phrase “Love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:1). He clearly brought out the idea that love endures during hardship and never gives up, yet in this we fail. Our love is not perfect love. Christ, though, does not fail. Christ does not give up on us. So we trust in him, knowing his love will not let us down. The music was good, but I was surprised that the singing of the congregation was not stronger. This is especially so as the stone floors made the acoustics in the sanctuary excellent.

We left St Paul’s and arrived at Holy Cross just at 9:00, expecting to slip into the worship service already just begun. However, through the summer, they are having breakfast at 9:00 and worship at 10:00 on the second Sunday of the month. So I got my first cup of coffee for the day and we ate an enjoyable breakfast which featured several different quiches. Dave Lindsey, an old friend of ours, and his two boys were there. Around 9:30 one of the Deacons gave a talk about some elements of the traditional liturgy. Part of the talk reminded the people present that they would be reintroducing a processional at the beginning of the worship service today. They were reminded that when this happens it is appropriate and traditional for the congregation to turn and face the cross as it is brought into the sanctuary and up to the altar area. Instead of having a regularly called pastor, Holy Cross is served by a team of commissioned Deacons. Deacons wear their stole differently from regular Pastors. It crosses from the right hand shoulder to the left hip or waist, and is fastened there, looking something like a sash. At Holy Cross these men serve in a part-time capacity. When their last Pastor left the congregation determined that they could not afford the salary of a full-time ordained minister of the word and so went with deacons instead. The liturgy was the most traditional Missouri Synod liturgy of the three services we have been to. We used the first setting of the Divine Service (LSB page 151). They also used three lessons (Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel). The appointed Introit was used, and so on. There was no children’s message. The only real departure from the normal liturgy was when a woman named Karen gave a testimony. She did a fine job as she related how Christ has made a difference in her life. Like Grace and St. Paul’s, Holy Cross is having a summer sermon series. Theirs is based on the seven churches of Revelation. Today’s message was based on the letter to the Church at Thyatira and is (I think) the third in the series. The message was about staying the course, holding onto the Gospel and not being drawn away by whatever. In the Church, in its liturgy, in its doctrine, in Christ Jesus, we find what we need to remain faithful. There was a delightful song sung during the offering. The pace of the liturgy was notably slower than what I’m used to. All in all, a good worship experience and one that any LC-MS member would immediately recognize and be able to participate in.

Dave invited us to come over at 4:00, and we did. Dawn, Dave’s wife, and Tim Paul, another old friend were there. We ate dinner and visited until around 8:30. We have a very pleasant evening. Of course we have to get on the road tomorrow morning so we had to head back. But both Kitty and I were glad to see these old friends.

No pictures today.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Vacation, Day 13

Commemoration of the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, AD 325
June 12, 2010
Vacation, Day 13

The Lord be with you

If I wasn’t on vacation I would post something today about the Council of Nicaea. This council adopted the first version of the Nicene Creed, which was adopted in its final and current form at the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD. This council and creed affirmed that Jesus is the eternal Son of God in harmony with the scriptures and the consistent teaching of the Church since the Apostles. Instead, I will ask a trivia question.

What bishop, who is known to virtually everyone in the USA over the age of two, attended the Council of Nicaea and voted in favor of it? (The answer is at the end of this post.)

Now, on to vacation news. Today we celebrated my mother’s 90th birthday. In reality she will not turn 90 until November, but now is the time many of us could gather. The day started off with final preparations. People began to arrive around 10:30 AM. We had Lasagna for lunch with fruit salad. There was ice cream and cake. Memories were shared. My brother George, who was not able to be here, sent a great letter that was read. Mom received cards and gifts. She clearly appreciated the gesture. Things carried on until around 2:30 in the afternoon. Many hands made clean-up a breeze.

A number of the participants met again at Mission Bay for a bon fire around 7:00 PM. Rachel and the kids joined that group. Before they went to the bay they went to Pacific Beach. I took Rachel’s car and got the oil changed and the tires rotated, in preparation for our return trip. Kitty, Diane and I went to dinner at a place called Soup Plantation (only they spell it as one word).

There were a number of us who were taking pictures. However what will no doubt always be considered by me as the “official” picture of this gathering will be one taken by my daughter. That is because she 1) brought a tripod to mount her camera, and 2) her camera has a timer so everyone could be in the photograph. Therefore the group picture below is one she took. All the other photographs were taken by me.

The pictures below are:
1. The group photo, taken on the stairs out back.
2. Rachel, Cathy, Diane and Rebekah looking at Rebekah’s wedding album (Kitty in background)
3. Mom blowing out her candles (we put nine on the cake)
4. Mom opens a present as Rebekah looks on

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert





(The answer to the trivia question is: Saint Nicholas, AKA Santa Claus)