30 November 2011

Noah (November 29)

 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.           Genesis 6:5-7

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah,while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven andis at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.  1 Peter 3:18-22

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.  Luke 17:26 (Good Advent verse!)

A series of paintings telling the story of Noah.
Coloring pages: One, Two,
Lots of Noah's Ark activities and stuff
After reading 1 Peter 3, review the Small Catechism on baptism


Here's a wonderful Orthodox site with icons of Old Testament people and lots of Easter books and cards. You can get a Noah for next year!(HT Kira)

28 November 2011


And again Isaiah says,
   "The root of Jesse will come,
    even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
    in him will the Gentiles hope."
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.                                 Romans 15:12-13

The Last Judgment Fra Angelica

Happy New Year!  The Christian Church, at least in the West, marks Advent as the beginning of a new church year.  We look forward, as ancient Israel did, to Christ's birth, and as the New Israel, to Christ's return.  While looking for Advent material, I noticed two contrasting sentences, both meditations on Christ yesterday, today, and forever.  
On a Roman Catholic site there is a quotation from an essay on Advent and Christ's threefold coming. The essay is based on a statement by St.Bernard: "In the first coming, He comes in the flesh and in weakness; in the second, He comes in spirit and in power; in the third, He comes in glory and in majesty; and the second coming is the means whereby we pass from the first to the third."

I did not disagree technically with that statement, if interpreted rightly, or really with the rest of the essay (with a few exceptions).  However, the Advent banner over at lcms.org was compelling: "As Christ came long ago in Bethlehem, so we pray He would come among us today in Word and Sacrament and again in all His glory in the last day."
Spirit vs. Sacrament (Flesh).  
Power, generally, vs. the Word, specifically. 

During Advent we remember His first coming "in flesh and weakness," but also confess He continues to come to us, in the Flesh, and in weakness (plain water, simple bread and wine, a sinful pastor).  God's ways are hidden, and appear weak to us. Flesh and weakness are not replaced by Spirit and power, but rather actually deliver to us the power of the Holy Spirit, that is, the gift of faith and salvation.

So, as Lutherans, rejoice in the hope to come, God's glory.  But remain in the little helpless God-Baby, born in Bethlehem, and the naked, wretched God-Man, cursed and dead on Golgotha.  Continue to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood until He returns.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Romans 5:1-2

One of the many concerns of Christian parents, across confessions, is how to "take back Christmas," or keep Jesus the "reason for the season."  For liturgical Christians, this means restoring Advent and moving Christmas to its historical place (beginning at Christmas Day, but lasting  all the way to Epiphany! Take that, Adam Sandler!). One way is to observe Advent is to save your festivities (cookies, parties, open houses) for the real Christmas season. Another is to wait to decorate until Christmas Week, or even Christmas Eve.

And I think Advent is a beautiful season for the woman of the house.  She can plan, cook, clean and wrap without stressing out. Then she can actually relax for days instead of one day. Everything is drawn out and takes longer and tastes sweeter because there isn't a mad rush.  A mad rush to prepare, a mad rush to party, then it's all over.  I know some families who do their Christmas shopping after Christmas Day, then spread the giving out over the rest of the season.  On a practical level, praise God for Advent!

Here are some sites with great ideas (use your discretion,only the third one is Lutheran)

Baby Steps for Celebrating Advent
Fisheaters-Advent Overview
Christmas in September (lots of Advent ideas, too!  Read through all the comments!)

What we're gonna do....

Learn a new hymn
Slowly decorate the house:
On Advent Sunday just put electric candles in each window, and an Advent Wreath on the table.
Eight days before Christmas ("Golden Days" singing the O Antiphons) we'll add Christmas lights and an empty Nativity Scene.
Hide-n-seek each morning during Christmas Week for certain Nativity figures until Mary on Christmas Eve and Jesus on Christmas Day.  Wisemen begin to make the trek from upstairs.
 We always get our tree a few days before Christmas and decorate it on Christmas Eve
Attend midweek services
Make Christmas gifts
Make Christmas cookies and treats to freeze, consuming only during Christmas
Introduce new (read "different") prayers to memorize and pray during bed time
Memorize the Ten Commandments (my kids have the Creed, Lord's Prayer, Morning and Evening Prayers down, so now is as good as ever to start something new).

Other ideas I'm interested in, but am not committing to, yet:

*Collecting 30 or so religious picture books to wrap up in tissue paper and "unwrap" each evening before bed to read.  Of course, many will be Christmas-themed, but not all of them.  An Arch Book on John the Baptist (preparing the world for the first advent of Christ) would be appropriate, or some of the parables about the Parousia. You could, over time, collect a lot from amazon/garage sales/used book stores.

*Freezing meals over advent to use during Christmas. What a great way to prepare to rest during the season!

What are you doing special for Advent?  Watch for future posts on recipes, gift ideas, etc.

Comfort, comfort ye my people,
speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
comfort those who sit in darkness,
mourning 'neath their sorrow's load;
speak ye to Jerusalem
of the peace that waits for them;
tell her that her sins I cover,
and her warfare now is over.

23 November 2011

Clement of Rome (November 23)

In love the Master took us unto Himself; for the love which He had toward us, Jesus Christ our Lord hath given His blood for us by the will of God, and His flesh for our flesh and His life for our lives.  1 Clem. 49:6

Clement (ca. A.D. 35–100) is remembered for having established the pattern of apostolic authority that governed the Christian Church during the first and second centuries. He also insisted on keeping Christ at the center of the Church's worship and outreach. In a letter to the Christians at Corinth, he emphasized the centrality of Jesus' death and resurrection: “Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ, realizing how precious it is to His Father, since it was poured out for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to the whole world” (1 Clement 6:31). Prior to suffering a martyr's death by drowning, he displayed a steadfast, Christ-like love for God's redeemed people, serving as an inspiration to future generations to continue to build the Church on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, with Christ as the one and only cornerstone." (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer)
I found the passage above from I Clement (a letter to the Corinthians) while trying to learn more about the man.  (I also found some dismayed blog posts: "Early Church Fathers Taught Substitutional Atonement?!" Yup.)  "His Flesh for our flesh and his Life for our lives."  

"St. Clem's Day" was very popular in England, and was a festival for blacksmiths.  I could not find many customs relating to the man himself.  I also could not find any coloring pages.

  • Since St. Clement drowned, we are going to focus on the passages on Baptism in the Small Catechism.  He both died and rose again at his Baptism and died into Life Eternal at his death!
  • Older children could read some of Clement's letters and find doctrine parallel to Peter's and Paul's epistles.  See Early Christian Writings for translations and history.  
  • Older children could also study the history of Penal Substitution, or find passages in the Bible that clearly support that doctrine.
  • We are beginning a tradition this year to have our first clementines of the season on St. Clement's Day :)  (It's 9am and I think we've gone through ten...see The O'Connor Home for how to use all those peelings.  I also like to clean and freshen my garbage disposal with ice cubes and orange peel.)

19 November 2011

Church Year Art

If you haven't noticed, I really like art.  I found on a home school blog the idea to buy a Metropolitan Art Museum desk calendar each year, then laminate the art you want to keep for future use!

Admittedly, there aren't as many church-year relevant pieces as I'd like, but there are even some pages I might frame and hang up.  (Side note: large bookstore calendars are great for finding art you want to display in your home.  Buy discount ones after the New Year.  Way cheaper than buying prints or posters from museums.  We have the Rublev Trinity above our fireplace, from an icon calendar on sale for $5.)

Another idea is to scoop up coffee table art books from antique malls or library book sales. You have to get used to taking a razor blade to books, though....

Elizabeth of Hungary (November 19)

Edmund Blair Leighton (1853-1922) The Charity of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

Marianne Stokes.  St. Elizabeth Spinning for the Poor

 Bartolome Esteban Murillo St. Elizabeth of Hungary Tending the Sick and Leprous, c1671-74

Born in Pressburg, Hungary, in 1207, Elizabeth was the daughter of King Andrew II and his wife Gertrude.  Given as a bride in an arranged political marriage, Elizabeth became the wife of Louis of Thuringia in Germany at the age of 14. She had a spirit of Christian generosity and charity, and the home she established for her husband and three children in the Wartburg Castle at Eisenach was known for its hospitality and family love. Elizabeth often supervised the care of the sick and needy and even gave up her bed to a leper at one time. Widowed at the age of 20, she made provisions for her children and entered into an austere life as a nun in the Order of Saint Francis. Her self-denial led to failing health and an early death in 1231 at the age of 24. Remembered for her self-sacrificing ways, Elizabeth is commemorated through the many hospitals named for her around the world.  (from lcms.org)

  • Coloring page
  • Crown-themed activities.  I found this Crown Cake recipe via CatholicCuisine.com.  We will make paper crowns (just as my elder son loved playing soldier all day on St. Martin's, my daughter will enjoy playing Queen Elizabeth).
  • Acts of Mercy.  Visit a shut-in or ill friend or relative.  Bring baked bread to your neighbors. If you're crazy enough to shop for Thanksgiving today,  buy some items for your local pantry.  (Maybe call first to see what they need.)
Elizabeth of Hungary, while an epitome of charity, can be hard for Lutheran mothers to admire.  Instead of accepting her God-given vocation, she left her fatherless children to enter a convent.  That really bothered  me until I read more on her life.  Maybe I am making excuses for her, but these are some of my thoughts:  She was a girl of her times, and we all carry with us baggage and private heresies which God will thankfully rid us of at Judgment.  She had suffered a lot in her short life--her mother had been murdered, her oldest child died young, and she was widowed when she was 8 months pregnant.  Her father confessor, after her husband died, put pressure on her to enter the convent (and initially her children came with her).  This may have partly been for her protection, since many in court resented the royal couple's generosity, and the to-be king was only 5 years old.  A lot of histories seem to suggest Konrad, her confessor, was a hard, controlling man, taking advantage of a distraught girl .  I have no idea if that is true, or simply the modern interpretation of his character.  What are your thoughts about this?  I'm sure I will have to answer some questions in the future from inquiring, thoughtful children who know their catechism....

I have no problem with the fact that Elizabeth is on our calendar because she's a popular saint among the Germans and Hungarians.  Who wouldn't love a young queen whose husband loved her and who opened her home to the sick and dying during epidemic?  Who spent her own dowry (with her husband's permission) to feed the poor during famine?  I definitely would prefer my daughter think of St. Elizabeth (or St. Margaret of Scotland) when they think of princesses and queens, instead of the Disney Princess Collection.

11 November 2011

St. Martin (November 11)

Martin of Tours, Pastor (from lcms.org)
Born into a pagan family in what is now Hungary around the year A.D. 316, Martin grew up in Lombardy (Italy). Coming to the Christian faith as a young person, he began a career in the Roman army. But sensing a call to a church vocation, Martin left the military and became a monk, affirming that he was “Christ's soldier.” Eventually, Martin was named bishop of Tours in western Gaul (France). He is remembered for his simple lifestyle and his determination to share the Gospel throughout rural Gaul. Incidentally, on St. Martin's Day in 1483, the one-day-old son of Hans and Margarette Luther was baptized and given the name “Martin” Luther.

Found this great coloring page.

We're going trace the image on wax paper and make some St. Martin lanterns.

Apparently, in Germany, St. Martin's Day begins on the 11th minute of the 11th hour, so I'm sure today is extra special :)

My son is wearing his Roman armor all day.  He is on a "soldiers" kick, so today is really exciting for him.

We might try Weckmann.

Some basic history, along with customs and superstitions.

06 November 2011

I haven't given up on this blog yet!

My beautiful excuse: Mary Elizabeth born September 11, born again September 25.

My less-than-beautiful excuse: This is hard.  I had visions four children ago of some sort of elaborate home school unit study based on the Church Year.   Our house will probably be more like this in a few years (with less Mexican and more Greek, but similarly spontaneous and maybe dangerous, and me bemoaning the lack of decorum).

Blessed All Saints' Week!