Thursday, September 25, 2008

Visiting Cemeteries

Yesterday I had a conversation that taught me how important cemeteries and gravestones are for some people, even ones signifying the burial location of someone long dead. I went on a mini-tour of our congregational cemetery, and learned about the graves for one specific and large family. The gravestone in question was for a baby, born and died in 1903.

I can remember visiting the cemetery with my grandmother. She would take my sister and I on a picnic there--or, if we were at her house for the day (my grandparents lived exactly one mile away from us when I was a youth, we lived on the original farmstead, and they had built a house straight across the fields the next rural block over--two miles to drive there, but we could see the silo, house and barns out our back window), and we were out running errands with her, she would stop and pretty the gravestones of her parents and aunts. I can't say I paid that much attention, but I think she picked weeds, put flowers up, and maybe other seasonal decorations. I played or waited impatiently.

Many folks care for gravestone in our church cemetery this way. I think there are some people who stop up at the cemetery every single day. As the pastor serving in this parish, I go past the cemetery every day because I park next to it, but I can't say it looms that large in my devotional imagination. I remember the dead, but I don't have a great urge to visit them. I do wander out into it when the seasons change, and of course am out there somewhat often for burials, conversational walks, etc.

It would interest me to know how much overlap there is between the cemetery culture and the internet culture. I tend to think that most internet users live at a distance from a cemetery, and find little reason to visit them. I could be wrong. I also think, and can say with some authority, that the majority of people who visit our cemetery daily or regularly have very little use for the internet.

Book of Concord

The Book of Concord has been available at this web site for a while, but they have a wonderful new layout and design that is worth browsing.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

McSeeney's Remembers David Foster Wallace

A Thread of Memories is going up at McSweeney's as people remember and post comments from his life.

They write:

Below, we've begun a thread of memories of David Foster Wallace that will, we hope, be some kind of salve during this wretched and bewildering week. Remembering him, and hearing of his warmth, his realness, his generosity and incredible decency, from those who knew him well and those who only met him once, might dull the pain a bit and, at the very least, remind us all why he meant so much to the world. If you would like to send a contribution—and it need not be beautifully written or profound—e-mail New entries will be added to the top of the thread each day. This site will be devoted to his memory for the foreseeable future.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bishop's Statement on Hurricane

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.... Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you....” (Isaiah 43:1-2,4a)

As I write, yet another hurricane is threatening the Gulf Coast. This one is only the latest in a seemingly endless series of storms that have brought hardship, destruction, fear and even death to brothers and sisters in the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean, especially Haiti. The relentless destruction reminds us that the rebuilding of lives continues in other areas that have been affected by floods, tornadoes, fires and other disasters.

I call on you to respond in the midst of danger and loss. While some are preparing for storms yet to come, others are fleeing from storms, and still others are rebuilding in the aftermath of disasters. I ask you to respond with your prayers, your generous gifts of time and money, your volunteer hours and skills, the open doors of your homes and churches, and your commitment to a sustaining presence for the long haul. Visit ELCA Disaster Response for updates, for downloadable bulletin inserts, and for ways to make contributions online.

These expressions of our faith remind us that we are called by name and are bound together by our baptisms into community with those who suffer. Thank you for your generous and sustaining response in the midst of the disasters.

God’s work. Our hands.

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Monday, September 01, 2008