Monday, January 31, 2005

Image Test

Here's one of my favorite found photos

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Sermon - Epiphany 4 - 1 Cor. 1

Epiphany 4, January 30th, 2005
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
“God has a Sense of Humor”

I. Introduction –
Sometimes, things are not as we expect.

A man is being tailgated by a stressed-out woman on a busy boulevard.
Suddenly, the light turns yellow, just in front of him. He does theright thing, and stops at the crosswalk, even though he could havebeaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection. The tailgating woman hits the roof, and the horn, screaming infrustration as she misses her chance to get through the intersectionwith him. As she is still in mid-rant, she hears a tap on her window and looks up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer orders her to exit her car with her hands up. He takes herto the police station where she is searched, fingerprinted, photographed,and placed in a cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approachesthe cell and opens the door. She is escorted back to the booking desk wherethe arresting officer is waiting with her personal effects. He says, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behindyour car while you were blowing your horn, gesturing at the guy off in frontof you, and cussing a blue streak at him.

I noticed the "Choose Life" license plate holder, the "What Would Jesus Do" bumper sticker, the "Follow Me to Sunday School" bumper sticker, and the chrome plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk." "Naturally I assumed you had stolen the car."

Perhaps the officer found his expectations of a Christian were a bit off.
The woman didn’t fit the pattern of a Christian he had expected.
But in a sense, this joke illustrates what humor is really about. It’s about the surprise, the unexpected. The breaking of the pattern.
In a sense, it’s what Paul is talking about in our Epistle today, which will be the basis of our meditation. We will get there, by taking the long way around. And when we do, we’ll see that God does have a sense of humor. But maybe not like we expect.

II. What Makes Us Laugh?
I have observed that what is funny in life is often in the breaking of the pattern. It’s why many jokes are told about 3 people. The first 2 set the pattern, the third breaks it, and we laugh. The third part of the joke is funny because we don’t expect it. The punchline is the surprise at the end.
A preacher a priest and a rabbai walk into a bar. The bartender says, this must be some kind of joke!
Even our earliest humor also has an element of surprise. It’s what makes babies laugh while playing peek-abo. They’re surprised each time you disappear and reappear. It’s amazing.

In the Old Testament, Sarah the wife of Abraham, had a good laugh.
She learned that she would become a mother in her old age, and she found this so out of the normal pattern that it was laughable. But surprise! God would keep his promise! Later, when the child was born, she said: Genesis 21 “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me” “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age”She even named the son Isaac, which means, laughter.

III. What Is Not So Funny
While most of us enjoy a good laugh, we also know its boundaries. Some humor is not in good taste. Humor that gets a laugh at someone’s expense, or makes fun of something which is to be highly esteemed or honored – such humor is offensive. Nor do we like being laughed at ourselves. Not everything that breaks the pattern is all that funny.

Maybe that’s one way of looking at sin – as something that breaks the pattern. Sin is breaking God’s pattern, His law, the course he has laid out for our behavior. When God tells us to worship Him alone, and we honor other gods, it’s not funny. When God tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and we do otherwise – this is no joke. Sin is the unexpected – it is us not meeting God’s expectations. Sin is no laughing matter. Or is it?

If we look through the entire Bible we find the only thing God actually laughs at is the destruction of the wicked.
Psalm 37:13 “The Lord laughs at the wicked” in derision. But can we avoid being on the receiving end of God’s laughter? Can we avoid what we really deserve for breaking God’s expectations?

IV. The Divine Comedy
In classical literature, there are two common forms for a story. One is a “tragedy”, in which things started out poorly, got better, but then the main character had some sort of fall from grace. A tragedy ended on a down note.

But the opposite of this was a comedy. Not like the laugh-seeking movies we often patronize, but Comedy in the classical sense, is a story that starts off good, gets worse, but has a happy ending. One of the greatest examples of this classical form is Dante’s work, the “Divine Comedy”. In this story, the main Character (Dante himself) goes on a sightseeing tour all the way down to the depths of Hell, only to be taken all the way up through purgatory even to heaven and finally to gaze upon God himself. The story goes from good, to bad, to great. It’s a happy ending. It’s a great reversal.

Christ is ultimate reversal. He is our happy ending. He saves us from the very depths of Hell, and brings us, like Dante, to the very presence of God in heaven. Only our journey is not a sightseeing tour or a dream. It is not a metaphor or some play-acting. Christ changes the reality of our situation by his work for us. By his perfect life, he brings us righteousness before God. By his sacrificial death, he takes such a penalty away from us. By his rising to life again, he guarantees us that even though we die, yet shall we live. He changes everything for us – everything that means anything – he turns our tragedy, in the classic sense, into a comedy. He makes our ending happy.

This is just God’s way – you might call it, the Divine Comedy – or God’s own peculiar sense of humor. Paul keys in on it here in his letter to the Corinthians – yes we have finally arrived at our text. God chooses the weak to make the strong look bad. He chooses the foolish to show his true wisdom. The lowly, despised things that “are not” – God uses these to nullify the things that are. What Paul is talking about here is God’s sense of humor – of breaking the pattern of our expectations.

Those things which the world might laugh at and shame – God turns the tables. Instead it is the supposedly strong, the so-called wise, and the seemingly wonderful – God laughs off these. And those held in shame and ridicule, he takes for himself and makes something out of.

We might have expected Jesus to choose learned men to be his disciples, powerful rulers, or wealthy merchants, but he chose common fishermen, a socially rejected tax collector, former prostitutes, and in St. Paul he even uses an arch-enemy of Christianity to become its chief spokesperson, even to write much of the New Testament. Likewise, we might not expect God would have US – sinners that we are. But He does. Christ dies for each of us. God calls us by name.

Perhaps the ultimate reversal then, the biggest laugh, is that God turns us sinners into his own holy and righteous children. He makes his enemies his friends. He no longer sees wicked people worthy of destruction. He sees “good and faithful servants”. He no longer is angry at our breaking of His expectations. Instead He rejoices with the angels when one sinner repents. He brings us dead people – dead in our sins – dying in our body and dead in our spirit. He brings us to life – life by His spirit – life forever. It’s just his way.

But now, as His people, we must deal with laughter once more, as Jesus warns. Laughter is also used in persecution – being laughed at, made fun of, despised for the sake of Christ – this happened to the prophets – and Jesus tells us in the Beatitudes, that it will happen to us who follow him, too. Still, we are blessed.
And remember, Jesus was laughed at too:
Those mourners who laughed at Jesus when He said,
“She is not dead, only sleeping”
But Jesus turned a father’s mourning into laughter when he said, “little girl, arise” – and she did. God has a sense of humor.

Those who laughed at Jesus when he hung, dying, “Save yourself, if you are the Christ” Who would have the last laugh on Easter Sunday??
God has a sense of humor.

And in the end, and I mean THE END – God will have the LAST laugh. And we, His people will join in the laughter. When all that is wrong is finally reversed, when God makes it right again. When in heaven, God will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and keep us forever.

So what makes us laugh? The breaking of the pattern, the unexpected, the surprise. But not everything that is wrong is so funny.

Does God have a sense of humor? Yes, but not like ours. For in the true Divine Comedy, Jesus Christ makes right what is wrong, and gives us the ultimate happy ending. And that’s no joke. In His Name. Amen.

V. Conclusion
Though it is often said that God has a sense of humor, sin is no laughing matter. Still God shows his sense of humor in choosing the weak to shame the strong, the foolish to shame the strong, and bringing us life through the death of His Son.

Sermon - Epiphany 2 - John 1:29

January 16th, 2005
John 1:29-41
“What Are YOU Looking At?”

I. Introduction –
John 1:29 is one of those little verses of scripture that expresses, in a short phrase, a profound mystery. It has been called "the masterpiece of the Holy Spirit." It is quoted at least five times in the Book of Concord. It is the basis for a chorus and an alto Aria in Bach's Mass in B Minor. It is found in the Catechism. The Lutheran Hymnal has 6 hymns based on this verse. Even our communion liturgy uses it, the “Agnus Dei”, Latin, for the Lamb of God.
Unpacking this phrase, this short soundbyte of John, will help us answer the Epiphany question, “just who is this Jesus, anyway?” – for behold, he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

II. Behold
First, John bids us to “Look!”
The old translation, BEHOLD- a command to look, but not just gaze at for a moment. Look, see, study, and appreciate. Concentrate on.
What normally occupies our attention in this way?
What are you looking at?
Our attention is usually occupied with, simply, ourselves. We are turned inward. Our attention, our focus, is usually on me and my wants and my desires. How can I look good? What will make me feel good? Happy? Looking at ourselves, though, as if the world revolves around us – this is really, the original sin – selfishness. We want to be God. We want “the eyes of all to wait upon” ME.
Now, sin has many forms, but it all looks the same to God. It is all worthy of punishment. It all means death. God’s rules leave no wiggle room, there is no “pretty good” or “not as bad as” the next guy. His perfect law demands perfect holiness from us, an image we have long since shattered. What are we looking at? If we were left in our sins, we would be looking at an eternal sentence of God’s wrath and punishment. We would be looking at the hopelessness of getting what we deserve. We would be staring eternal death in the face.
We could look to our own devices, our own abilities for salvation, but we wouldn’t find it there. We could search forever within ourselves, but never find enough good to please God or balance out our sins. Instead:
John says, “Behold the Lamb of God!” and when John says, "Behold!" he means more that wondering or considering. "Looking" is used in Scripture for faith: "Look unto me, and saved."

Just as the ancient Hebrews looked to the bronze serpent lifted high on a pole, and their snake-bites were healed, we look to the sin-bearing Christ, lifted high on the cross, and that Old serpent the Devil and his venom are no longer of concern. John says, Behold! LOOK! ATTENTION, Your savior is here.
Take your eyes off everything else, turn away from yourself and your sin, and behold the Lamb of God! You need not see anything else, nothing else is worth seeing; but behold Him, Jesus Christ alone. OK. So we’re looking. You’ve got our attention, John. Now what, who do we see?

III. The Lamb of God
John says “Behold the Lamb of God” and that phrase, “Lamb of God” meant something for John’s hearers. We must understand.
After sin came into the world and men were alienated from God, it was God's will that men offer animal sacrifices to make amends for their sin. Abel offered a lamb to God and it was accepted. Noah, Abraham, Jacob – all offered sacrifices.
The Passover lamb was offered as a sacrifice to save the people of Israel from the Angel of death during the final plague on Egypt.. God then took them to Siani and gave them a system of sacrifice, by which his people could deal with their sins, better, by which he promised to deal with their sins. The high point of the sacrificial calendar year was Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement.
The goat on the Day of Atonement that was slaughtered for the sins of the people, had come over time, to be known as “the Lamb of God”. It is with this, and all the other lambs that were slain over some 1500 years – after so much blood was shed, now comes Christ – to whom all sacrifices point. To him, THE Lamb of God. The once and for all greatest, best, most perfect and without blemish, holy Lamb of God. One of a kind. Born to die.
And it would be no accident. For the lamb is also he that “Takes away the sin of the world”. What do you mean by that, John? And here another Epiphany theme – the inclusion of the gentiles – not just the Jews, but all nations – our eyes are directed to the Lamb of God, our savior. He takes away the sin of THE WORLD!

IV. Who Takes Away the Sin of the World
What the blood of millions of animals had anticipated, the blood of Jesus secures. What the lamb of Passover pointed to, Jesus Christ fulfills. What the goat on the day of atonement foreshadowed, Jesus makes reality. When we look at Jesus, as John bids us, we see the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. This was always the plan – but see what else Scripture says about Him who takes away the sins of the world:

Genesis 22:7-8,13. Abraham is about to sacrifice his son, Isaac, when the young man asks, "where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Abraham responds by saying, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And indeed, there is a substitution made at the last moment – the ram caught in the thicket – provided by God. Is it not significant that Jesus himself was provided as our substitute – “God will provide the lamb”.
The Passover lamb of Exodus, which we mentioned earlier, was to be slain on the 14th of the Jewish month of Nisan. Is it an accident that Christ, the Lamb of God, died on the cross, the evening of the 14th of Nisan?
The blood of the Passover lamb was to be shed and then applied to the door posts of the house, and by this means the household was delivered from death. We are spared through the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 1:18-19. The blood is applied to us when we are baptized into Christ, Hebrews 10:19-22.
Exodus 12:8. The Passover lamb was to be eaten. Christ himself instituted the Lord's supper during the Passover meal that He shared with His disciples. In the Lord's supper we partake of Christ, the Lamb of our deliverance, 1 Corinthians 10:16. In 1 Corinthians 5:7 Christ is called our Passover which has been sacrificed.
Isaiah 53:5-7. The prophet Isaiah foresaw the coming of the Servant of the Lord who would be the sacrificial lamb that would take away the sins of Israel. This man would go to His death without speaking a word in His own defense, as a lamb led to slaughter. It is this passage that is read by the Eunuch in Acts 8:32-35, and Philip applies the prophecy to Jesus Christ. Jesus was silent before His accusers, Matthew 26:62-63, Matthew 27:12-14, and this very behavior is referred to by Peter in 1 Peter 2:21-24 who also quotes from Isaiah 53.
In His death on the cross, Jesus fulfilled every facet of Isaiah's portrayal of God's sacrificial lamb.
It is through this, once and for all, central sacrifice that we are saved, like Issac, like the Israelites, but even better. For more than our life – our eternal life is saved. Because the sins are gone. The lamb was slain. In fact, more than just Issac, or the Israelites – but all nations are saved in his sacrifice. Including you and me.
But the story doesn’t end there! There is ANOTHER picture of the Lamb presented in Scripture... again by the Apostle John, but this time in Revelation 5.

Now, the Lamb of God, who has taken away the sins of the world, the lamb who had been slain – is alive again! For our paschal lamb is a victorious one, conquering that which would conquer us – sin, the devil, the grave.Behold, the triumphal lamb! Rev. 5In the symbolic imagery of Revelation an angel is holding scroll with writing on both sides– there’s seven seals and he asks, “Who is worthy to open sucha scroll?” The answer comes from one of the elders: The Lamb, looking as if it had been slain. And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth." And vs. 12 "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"

And finally look to Revelation 7:14 where we read about the saints in heaven. Of them it is said, "they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." That’s us. Made clean by the blood of the lamb, Jesus Christ.

Hear again the words of John today, and hear them well: BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD, WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD. Look not to yourself, but to Jesus, trust in Him alone, and live – forever. All eyes on Jesus. Amen.

V. Conclusion
John the Baptists directs our eyes to Jesus, the Lamb of God. Seeing Him, we see our sins taken away. So we, like John, would direct all eyes to Jesus.

Sermon - Christmas 2 - John 1:14

Christmas 2, January 2nd, 2005
“On Word and Flesh”
John 1:14

John 1:1-18 is our reading for today, the 2nd Sunday after Christmas. It is a powerful text which opens the 4th and final Gospel account of the Christ. Matthew and Luke tell the story of the first Christmas with all the attendant cast of characters and props – the shepherds, wisemen, angels, the manger, the star, the swaddling clothes. But John’s concern is different. John mines the theology of the event, the meaning, in a profound way. John’s gospel is chock-full of seemingly simple words and ideas in which is loaded a world of theological meaning.
For his part, Martin Luther preached 11 sermons (158 pages) on these 18 verses. Don’t worry, we won’t be so ambitious this morning. Instead I want to focus one one verse, verse 14. There we will see 5 words – just 5 words, which clue us in to a greater depth of appreciation for our Christmas theology.

A young man was buying a shirt in a department store. The shirt label said, “Shrink Resistant.” He asked the clerk what exactly do these words mean?The clerk said, “The label means that the shirt will shrink, but it doesn’t want to.”
Words communicate ideas, Words perform action “I now pronounce you man and wife!” We use words for many purposes, but often in the service of sin. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but the truth is words can and do hurt. When it comes to the 8th and 2nd commandments, Luther’s Small Catechism shows how we misuse words in relation to man, and to God. James warns us about the tongue, compares it to a wild beast, a fire, a sword – the human tongue is dangerous, as are the words formed by it. That’s because it is filled with sin, What a contrast between our words, and THE WORD.
The WORD of God, a living word. The WORD of God, an eternal word. The WORD which John tells us was with God and Was God. Through the WORD all things were made – when God spoke the word, creation came to be. This WORD is, of course, the second person of the Godhead, the eternal Son – we know him as Jesus. As the word, he not only brings us God’s message. He IS the message.

We know him as Jesus because he came in the flesh. “Flesh” is a strong, almost crude way of referring to human nature. He could have said "The Word became man…" or "The word took on human form or a body…" But he bluntly said "flesh."
The problem with our flesh is that it is corrupted by sin. And so our flesh gets sick, old, and dies – the consequence of our sin.
But the word who became flesh did so without sin. He was perfect in every way. Some say he came in the flesh to understand us better – to “walk in our shoes” as it were. And I suppose there is some comfort to knowing that God knows what we go through – that he’s been there (or here). But sympathy was not the reason the word became flesh.
He took on flesh so that flesh could die. He took on flesh to save our flesh by destroying his own. He took on our human nature, and though he had no sin of his own, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).Jesus took His flesh, loaded with the sins of our flesh, he took it to the cross.

In our sin, we seek glory for ourselves. But Jesus comes to bring the true glory that is of God. We have seen His glory. St. John saw Christ’s glory revealed to some degree on the Mt. of Transfiguration. There Christ shone brightly like the sun. John, James and Peter got a glimpse of Christ’s true glory.
But John would see Christ in even more glory. He would see it in the cross. The only disciple to stick with Jesus to the end, John stood at the foot of the cross and saw the glory of God’s plan completed in the not-so-glorious-seeming spectacle of a torturous death, an innocent condemned. When we look to the cross, we can say with John, “We have seen his glory”. For there in his central act of saving US, God is most glorified by his one and only Son.

There, also in the cross, we see grace. Jesus was full of grace, that undeserved love of God. You could see it in every leper healed, every blind man who regained sight, every child blessed, every tax collector and prostitute forgiven. God’s grace was made clear in Christ when he raised a little girl, and a widow’s son, and a man named Lazarus from the dead. None of these deserved special treatment. But the Word Made Flesh had come, with Glory and Grace.
And we see His grace still. Even though he has gone from before our eyes to the throne of heaven, we see his grace. We see his grace in a sinner forgiven. We see his grace in a child baptized. We see his grace, even touch and taste it – as we gather around his real presence in our midst. In these means of grace, Christ has promised to be found, has promised his blessings, his forgiveness, love, grace. He was full and is full of grace, and he invites us to receive from His fullness.

Then there is truth. He was, he is, full of truth. We, are not. We are full of ourselves, our lies and half-truths. We cannot be trusted 100% of the time. We don’t always shoot it straight. We say what gets us what we want, what makes us look good (and perhaps makes others look bad). And we do it with little hesitation to stretch or bend or twist reality by our words.
Likewise, how highly do we hold the truth of God’s word? Or are we more comfortable living by our own constructed truth – which may shift from day to day according to our desires. Do we buy into our cultural lie, “what’s true for you may not be true for me”?
But the Living, Eternal Word-made-flesh, he is true. He is full of grace and TRUTH. Sometimes his truth is the hard truth we need to hear. The truth may hurt – a lot. His word for us, like an unpleasant medical treatment, may be uncomfortable – but our sore souls need to receive it. And hearing the hard truth of His Law softens our hearts in repentance, and opens us for the sweet taste of Gospel – Gospel TRUTH! For the Word became flesh whose glory was made known among us, who is full of grace – he forgives you your sins and THAT IS THE TRUTH.
They can take the manger scene down. They can assault the notion that one man could save the whole world. They can question his message, or whether He is the only way to the Father. But they cannot change the truth. He who is said by John to be full of truth, later in this Gospel proclaims himself the Way, the TRUTH, and the life. And so he was, and so he is.
Words mean something. God’s word, even more-so. Today we looked at just 5 words from John’s opening chapter – WORD, FLESH, GLORY, GRACE, TRUTH. Each word a world of meaning for us, found in Christ our Lord. He is the WORD OF GOD made FLESH for us. In his cross, we find GLORY, we find GRACE. And it is TRUE. Now and always, Amen.

The sublime words of St. John regarding the Word which became Flesh. May we always see His glory, and be full of His grace and truth.

Gay Marriage

Some Theses on “Gay Marriage”
With respect to the very current debate of so-called “gay marriage”, we submit the following theses for the benefit of our congregation.

1. God’s Word is clear in its condemnation of homosexual activity.
In Romans 1, Paul makes it clear that homosexual activity is an affront to God. He speaks of homosexuality in such terms: “shameful lusts” and “unnatural relations”, “indecent acts” and “perversion”.

2. God’s Word is clear that Christ died for the sins of all, including homosexuals.
Scripture speaks in harsh terms of all sin, but offers sweet Gospel for those who confess sin and receive Christ’s forgiveness in faith. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:10)

3. God’s Word is clear that He, not Man, is the creator of marriage.
Jesus quotes and confirms Genesis: “at the beginning of creation, God ‘made them male and female’. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Mark 10:6-7).

4. God’s Word is clear that marriage is designed as a union of man and woman.
In all of creation no “suitable helper” could be found for Adam, so God created woman especially for the man. He made her “suitable” and “brought her to the man”. This is the intentional design of a Creator who knows best. When He had created both male and female, only then was creation declared “very good” (See Genesis 1 & 2).

5. God’s Word is clear that marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with His bride, the Church. God’s gift of marriage also holds deep theological meaning for His people. “For the Husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior”
(Ephesians 5:23). What sort of confusion will follow when this image is tampered with?

6. God’s Word is clear that in marriage, husbands and wives hold distinct roles.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25) “…and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33)
What sort of role confusion is implied in a marriage with 2 husbands or 2 wives?

7. God’s Word is clear that marriage, as He has given it, is a blessing.
Scripture is replete with references, explicit and implicit, to the blessings that come from God through marriage. Such blessings are obvious, and include companionship, love, and when it is God’s will, the procreation and nurture of children.

We hope and pray that God’s clear will for marriage will be respected, and that marriage, as given and instituted by God, will continue to be a blessing in our world.

We hope and pray that homosexuality, as all sins, will be recognized and confessed, that it might be forgiven in Christ. For this too is God’s clear will!

We encourage individual members of Grace to actively work through the means God has provided, exercising rights of citizenship, to influence public policy in a God-pleasing way.

The Board of Elders of Grace Lutheran Church, Racine, Wisconsin,
Pastor Randal Poppe, Pastor Thomas Chryst

Adopted 4/6/04

Resources for further study:
- “What About…. Homosexuality?” pamphlet, available in our church library.
- A statement from the President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, available online at: of the President/Protection of Marriage Statement.pdf

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Fun Facts

In the 1400's a law was set forth that a man was not allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Hence we have "the rule of thumb"

Many years ago in Scotland, a new game was invented. It was ruled "Gentlemen Only...Ladies Forbidden"...and thus the word GOLF entered into the English language.

Every day more money is printed for Monopoly than the US Treasury

Men can read smaller print than women can; women can hear better.

Coca-Cola was originally green

It is impossible to lick your elbow.

The State with the highest percentage of people who walk to work: Alaska

The percentage of Africa that is wilderness: 28% (now get this..

The percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38%

The cost of raising a medium-size dog to the age of eleven: $6,400

The average number of people airborne over the US any given hour: 61,000

Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.

The first novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer.

The San Francisco Cable cars are the only mobile National Monuments.

Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history:
Spades - King David
Hearts - Charlemagne
Clubs -Alexander the Great
Diamonds - Julius Caesar

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle.
If the horse has one front leg in the air the person died as a result of wounds received in battle.
If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.

Only two people signed the Declaration ofIndependenceon July 4th, John Hancock andCharlesThomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.

Q. Half of all Americans live within 50 miles of what?
A. Their birthplace

Q. Most boat owners name their boats. What is the most popular boat name requested?
A. Obsession

Q. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter "A"?
A. One thousand

Q. What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers all have in common?
A. All invented by women.

Q. What is the only food that doesn't spoil?
A. Honey

Q. Which day are there more collect calls than any other day of the year?
A. Father's Day

In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase......... "goodnight, sleep tight."

It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month . which we know today as the honeymoon.

In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts... So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them "Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down."It's where we get the phrase "mind your P's and Q's"

Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. "Wet your whistle" is the phrase inspired by this practice

~~~~~~~~~~~AND FINALLY~~~~~~~~~~~~

At least 75% of people who read this will try to lick their elbow
(I, however, refuse)

New Lutheran Hymn

"Gathered In Your Name Most Holy"
Tune: Der am Kreuz (On My Heart Imprint Thy Image)

Gathered in your name most holy
Father, Son and Holy Ghost
You assemble us for worship
Granting what we need the most
Your true church is present where
Word and Sacrament we share
When your Word is spoken purely
You are present just as surely

When our sins we come confessing
Done and undone, thought, word, deed
You announce to us forgiveness
All our sins Your grace exceeds
In Your stead your servant stands
And absolves as you command
Absolution words assuring
Our forgiveness thus securing.

Lord your Law does strike our conscience
With its rod of righteous wrath
Showing us where we have wandered
Choosing sin and Hell's vile path
But your Gospel binds and heals
Our forgiveness ever seals
Jesus died for our salvation
Thus we sing in exaltation.

Born an heir of wicked nature
Adam's image, broken, torn
Christ gives us a different line'age
In the waters we're reborn
In God's family, now we share
Now the three-fold Name we bear
At the font we do inherit
Life forever by the Spirit.

As we gather at your altar
Bearing all our guilt and sin
We confess and know our weakness
Wretched, dark, and soiled within
Yet we come apart from fear
Knowing Jesus You are here -
Bread and wine are no mere token
For your words are clearly spoken.

More than food of earthly nature
Is the feast you here supply
Christ's own blood and His true body
Precious gifts from Heavn' on high
Let us hear, touch, taste and see
Grace is given here for free
You sustain us, feed and nourish
That your Church may ever flourish.

Bless us Lord, and smile upon us
Bless us, keep us in your grace
Bless us Lord, and lift upon us
Shining beams from your bright face
Bless us Lord and grant us peace
For your mercies never cease
Hear our thanks for what you've given
Here on earth and there in heaven.

© Thomas E. Chryst, 2005