Friday, December 26, 2008

From W.H. Auden's Christmas Oratorio: For the Time Being

"For the Time Being"--A Christmas Oratorio:

Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their carboard boxes--
Some have got broken--and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week--
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted--quite unsuccesfully--
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.
The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off. But, for the time being, here we all are,
Back in the moderate Aristotelian city
Of darning and the Eight-Fifteen, where Euclid's geometry
And Newton's mechanics would account for our experience,
And the kitchen table exists because I scrub it.
It seems to have shrunk during the holidays. The streets
Are much narrower than we remembered; we had forgotten
The office was as depressing as this. To those who have seen
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.
For the innocent children who whispered so excitedly
Outside the locked door where they knew the presents to be
Grew up when it opened. Now, recollecting that moment
We can repress the joy, but the guilt remains conscious,
Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
Everything became a You and nothing was an It.
And craving the sensation but ignoring the cause,
We look round for something, no matter what, to inhibit
Our self-reflection, and the obvious thing for that purpose
Would be some great suffering. So, once we have met the Son,
We are tempted ever after to pray to the Father:
”Lead us into temptation and evil for our sake”.
They will come, all right, don’t worry; probably in a form
That we do not expect, and certainly with a force
More dreadful than we can imagine. In the meantime
There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair,
Irregular verbs to learn, the Time Being to redeem
From insignificance. The happy morning is over,
The night of agony still to come; the time is noon:
When the Spirit must practice his scales of rejoicing
Without even a hostile audience, and the Soul endure
A silence that is neither for nor against her faith
That God’s Will will be done, that, in spite of her prayers,
God will cheat no one, not even the world of its triump.


He is the Way.
Follow Him through the Land of Unlikeness;
You will see rare beasts, and have unique adventures.

He is the Truth.
Seek Him in the Kingdom of Anxiety;
You will come to a great city that has expected your return for years.

He is the Life.
Love Him in the World of the Flesh;
And at your marriage all its occasions shall dance for joy.


Thank you to Christopher Evans who posted this originally on Facebook. This is an excerpt, part of a 53 page poem Auden had hoped Benjamin Britten would set to music.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


BookGlutton is one of those things I'm still not sure what it is, kind of like social networking WHILE you read; learning how it works, not sure I'll use it, but it is definitely intriguing...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Complete Holiday Book Recommendations 2008 : NPR

Complete Holiday Book Recommendations 2008 : NPR

The Week Of Prayer For Christian Unity - Celebrating Prayer for Christian Unity, 1908-2008

The Week Of Prayer For Christian Unity - Celebrating Prayer for Christian Unity, 1908-2008

Community Prayer Service for Janesville Workers

Press Release
Subject: Community Prayer Service for Janesville Workers
Date & Time of Event: 5:00 PM, December 23, 2008
Place: First Lutheran Church, 612 N. Randall Ave., Janesville, WI
Contact Person: Rev. Jim Melvin – ph. 752-7434

December 23rd marks the end of an era in Janesville as the GM plant officially closes its doors. This closing will affect not only GM workers but the workers of other companies and businesses who will also lose their jobs. Everyone in our community will share in a sense of loss. Our auto industry has been a source of pride and identity for as long as any of us can remember.

The people of First Lutheran Church invite the entire community to a service of scripture, prayer, and song to help us grieve our loss, honor our proud workers, and to look forward in hope. We realize that this is a busy time of year, but we invite you to pause briefly to acknowledge this important moment in our shared history.

People of all faiths are welcome. First Lutheran Church is located on the corner of Randall and East Milwaukee across from the Rock County Fairgrounds. A free will offering will be taken in support of ECHO.

Time & Date: 5:00 PM, December 23rd, 2008
Place: First Lutheran Church
Who’s Invited: Everyone

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Message 2008

Christmas Message 2008
A message from Pastor Clint Schnekloth

Listen to: In the Bleak Midwinter, by Christina Georgina Rossetti

This Advent, snow has been falling, snow on snow, and for many, this winter has indeed been cold and bleak. Some have lost jobs; others have lost loved ones; still others are experiencing economic insecurity. The Advent/Christmas season, which outwardly seems so bright and soft, may be for some of us like the hard iron and stone of frozen earth and water. Bleak.

And yet, we believe and trust that a new, “sunny” little body, the Son of God, came into the world just over 2000 years ago, and the good news of his birth makes all the difference in how we respond to bleak seasons in our lives. This baby, our Lord Jesus Christ, brought warmth and security and peace to Mary and Joseph, the animals and shepherds and wise men, and also to all of us. The birth of God incarnate which we celebrate this Christmas season is good news for the whole earth. As this year turns to the next, we celebrate that the life we live together as the church is only “the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). The good news is good and keeps being new.

So we do not lose hope. We trust that the God of heaven and earth, who was capable of bringing redemption to the whole world through the birth of this child, is capable now of caring for us in our need. Even in our bleakest hours we are warmed by the presence of the Son in our lives. And we are set free by this hope to warm the hearts of others, by sharing with them the good news that, as Luther wrote, "From eternity Christ is born, he is always being born."

Let us find ways together to experience the new birth in Christ in this new day. Let us comfort those who grieve, feed those who hunger, refresh those who thirst, join together in worship of the Savior, and in every way, let Christ be born in us today.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Gospel of Mark Chapter 1

Gospel of Mark Chapter 1

This might be the most thorough resource on Mark on-line of which I'm aware. I'm also reading Donald Juel's commentary on Mark as preparation for this year preaching on Mark. What are others reading?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Christmas Gifts for Refugees

Did you or your congregation give Christmas gifts last year for newly arriving refugees? Want to do it again? Or are you still hoping to stimulate the economy by adding to your holiday shopping list? There's still time!

LSS of Wisconsin Refugee program now has a list of 150 refugees who arrived this past year that we'd like to give holiday gifts to. Here's how it works:

1) Respond to this blog post indicating how many gifts you or your congregation would like to give.
2) I'll send you a list of names, gender and age, so you can go shopping.
3) Go shopping, purchasing approximately one appropriate gift per person. Good gifts include Target gift cards, clothes, and winter jackets. Estimate sizes of clothing based on age. When in doubt, consider gift cards...
4) Collect all your gifts, and mail or deliver them to East Koshkonong Lutheran Church no later than December 21st. Wrap all gifts and label them with the name of the recipient.

Staffers from LSS of Wisconsin will stop by here on December 23rd to pick up all the gifts, and then they will hold a holiday party for the refugee families in early January.

If you have any questions about specific families or the refugee program, you can contact Rebekah Johnson, 414-325-3098

Last year we also collected material donations, like used furniture, clothing, and household items. We will need these kinds of donations very soon, because the refugee resettlement program is coming to Madison. Refugees will likely be resettled directly in the Madison area starting in 2009. So for the time being, rather than donating your gently used items right now, please consider storing them at your house or at church, and we will definitely welcome and need them when resettlement opens in Madison.

Blessings in this Advent season as we live lives of hope and grace in Christ,

Raising Micah

The mission of Raising Micah is to excite, equip, and empower families, churches, and communities to raise children who will do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. The hope is to remake our world.