Saturday, July 26, 2008

Prof'n'Stein with Dr. Jeff Gibbs

Much to my surprise, there was another Prof'n'Stein event on Friday afternoon. (I had been told to expect them no more than once a month.) This time Dr. Jeff Gibbs took to the soapbox to share some of his thoughts with us. In his talk, he asserted that our hymnody fails to fully represent the rich New Testament teaching of the kingdom of God. (Not that it is wrong, but rather that it is incomplete.)

In particular, Dr. Gibbs observed that the hymnody focuses on our comfort in death without fully expressing the reality that awaits us, which is a source of great hope: we will be raised anew in glorified bodies free from sin! So many of our hymns and our teaching speak of a "freeing" of the soul from the body at death, which encourages a negative view (even disdain) of the body and the world that is closer to gnosticism than Christianity.

Will we who are believers in Christ see God face to face upon our death? Yes! And it will be glorious to behold. But the world is being remade in Christ (Romans 8:18-25), his reign (his "kinging", often called his "kingdom") is breaking out all around us, and in the end time, heaven will draw near to earth and there will no longer be any separation ("sea") between the two . We will be God's people; God himself will live with us, will be with us and will be our God! (Rev. 21:1-5)

Dr. Gibbs suggested that writing hymnody that reflects these great teachings of God is not hard. He even suggested a new stanza to close out our beloved LSB 878 ("Abide with Me")):

And when, O Lord, you come at last to save,
put death to death and raise us from the grave,
With all creation, standing brave and free,
I shall rejoice, for you abide with me.

Busch Stadium!

On Thursday night, Heather, the kids and I accompanied the youth from the ECCE Amplified event to Busch Stadium to watch the Cardinals play the Brewers! This was our first trip to the stadium and it was made doubly pleasant for having been a gift from the seminary. (I had volunteered to chaperone the youth, but when extra tickets were available, they encouraged me to bring my family along!)

Unfortunately, not everything went well that night: Wellemeyer (the Cardinals' pitcher) struggled and the Brewers beat the Cardinals. Jay Jay, a friend and summer Greek student, was also there and rooted for the Brewers throughout the game. He didn't missed the opportunity to rub in salt on Friday.

Health Update - Good News!

Well, for those who are curious, the lab results came back and look good. In other words, those things that might be detected from a blood culture have been ruled out. That's where the diagnostic value of the test ends.

I saw the doctor again on Tuesday. The inflamed lymph node is also no longer tender and the doctor observed that it has gotten smaller. He believes my lymph node was probably just doing what it was supposed to: trapping the bad things and preventing them from spreading. Consequently, he thinks we probably got around to treating it at the tail end of its doing its work.

Needless to say, until it is fully healed (i.e. gone), the doctor will continue to have me come in to keep an eye on it.

Thank you for your prayers!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tilles Park

After some wickering with our class schedule, the Hebrew class was able to take Friday "off". (Actually, the instructor asked that we take the day to shore up on the material we've been covering before we move on to the new stems in the last four weeks. All of our work to date has been with the QAL verb stem; we still have about six more to go. Fortunately, they have a lot in common with the QAL stem, so the task is not as daunting as it may sound.)

Although I have been studying pretty steadily since Thursday, I also took the opportunity on Friday to enjoy a picnic lunch with Heather, David and Emily at Tilles Park. Heather and the kids have been there before with some of the other seminary wives and their kids. The big attraction is the fountains which are turned on and off in a computer-controlled sequence. There were approximately twenty kids running in and out of the water the entire time we were there. There is also a very large playground as well, but this is one of the rare times that a playground plays second-fiddle to anything else.

Here's David weaving through the springs. (Here's a David quote: "I go too fast and too high to get hit by the water." Yeah, David, that's why your soaked!)

Mount Calvary Lutheran Church - Brentwood, MO - 20 July 2008

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, we are eager to settle into a single congregation and join them for Sunday Bible classes and worship. Thinking we had figured out the notes in the bulletin from last week, my family returned to Mount Calvary Lutheran Church this week. Sadly, we were mistaken: Mt. Calvary does not have children's Sunday School during the summer. There is a "Children's Worship Experience" for the youth after the children's message during the 10:30 service, but that is the extent of the children's Sunday School program until fall.

Rev. Darrell Zimmerman, the pastor of this congregation, led the congregation in songs of praise and presented a sermon on the gospel reading, the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds. The sermon was titled "Life Among the Weeds!" We knew we were in for a challenging sermon when Pastor Zimmerman began by reciting a new verse for the hymn "There is a Redeemer": "When I stand in glory I will see His face, In the meantime, Jesus, I'm living in a miserable place." This was just the beginning, and the message continued to emphasize that neither prosperity nor adversity could distinguish between the wheat and the weeds as we grow together in this world. We eagerly await the second coming and might rashly bring it on before the harvest has fully come, but Our Father is merciful: "'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest.'"

During the divine service, the congregation commissioned a team of its members who are bringing the Gospel to a Cree indian group in remote Canada by helping the local parish there conduct Vacation Bible School. In addition, the congregation bid a fond farewell to Michael and Mary Podeszwa; Michael is a seminarian and has been serving as a field education worker with Mt. Calvary, while Mary has served as the congregation's Director of Christian Education. Michael and his family are leaving for Cincinnati, Ohio where he will be serving as vicar for the next year.

Evening Devotions with the ECCE and Youth

Several weeks ago, the Concordia admissions staff was waiting outside after chapel to enlist the aid of the seminary community to conduct the assorted activities planned for the Exploring Church Careers Event. They were eager to provide the visiting youth with activities ranging from pick-up at the airport, devotions at the close of the day, sports activities during free times, scheduled visits to the zoo, the St. Louis Arch and a Cardinals baseball game.

Two friends, JJ and Matt, signed up with me to lead the evening devotions. We met a couple of times to discuss how we wanted the devotions to "hang together" and reviewed the planned content with Rev. Philp before getting started last night.

JJ started us off last night during the opening devotion at 6:30 by leading youth through Evening Prayer (found in the Lutheran Service Book (LSB) on page 297) reading Ephesians 2:1-10 and singing "By Grace I'm Saved" (LSB 566).

Then, at 10:30, I was given the opportunity to lead the group through prayer at the Close of Day (page 298 in the LSB). We had originally selected Colossians 3:12-17 and 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 for our texts, but I added Matthew 6:25-34. Prior to our closing prayers, we responded to the word by singing "Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive" (LSB 843).

Matt will lead the last devotional for the ECCE tonight. The principal text will be Ephesians 4, and Matt plans for us to join together in two hymns: "All Christians Who Have Been Baptized" and "God's Own Child".

Fortunately, many of the youth will stay on for the ECCE-Amplified, which continues until Friday. Because they will be participating in the evening chapels already offered at the seminary, we will gather together one more time for closing devotions on Wednesday. The texts for that night will be Matt. 9:35-38 and Romans 12:1-12. We will conclude by singing "Take My Life and Let it Be" (LSB 783).

It is a joy to see so many youth from so many different places engaged receiving the Word and responding in praise of our Lord and Savior!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Health Issues and the Seminary Doctor

Although most of the posts so far have taken the form of "diary entries" chronicling our family activities, I want to be sure that this blog "covers the waterfront" for those thinking to prepare for the ministry at Concordia - St. Louis. Naturally, our "activities" from the other entries do provide some insights into what families, children and spouses can do for entertainment here at CSL, but there are some other aspects of the seminary community that deserve attention.

Although I already plan to prepare postings on the Food Bank, the Re-Sell It Shop, the Kingdom Movers, Friday Evening BBQs, and other features of the life here on campus, I think it best to introduce them in the form of narratives springing from our own experiences. The past three weeks has presented such an opportunity.

About three weeks ago, a "lump", "bump" or similarly obvious physical deformation showed up on my body. Without being graphic, let me say that the bump's location and the discomfort that developed along with it led me to believe I might have a hernia. Unfortunately, this concern developed right before "moving day". It may seem very unwise in retrospect, but I was not comfortable letting everyone else move my household goods into our apartment without helping. So I put off making an appointment to see the doctor. (More on this decision later.)

The next week would have been a great opportunity to see the doctor, but we had scheduled to pick up and install a dryer that has been loaned to us by another seminary family that will be gone during the next year on their vicarage assignment. So any plans for a medical examination were now delayed by another week.

Why this delay? Aren't there seven days in a week during which to schedule doctors appointments? Yes, there are. For those of you who have moved from area to area, from job to job, and from insurance to insurance, you know that lining up a new set of "professionals" (e.g. doctors, accountants, lawyers, financial advisers, whatever) does not happen right away nor does it happen overnight. Moreover, without a physician selected and a with very full academic schedule occupying my time, it was difficult to do the necessary research and office visits to comfortably select a doctor. Finally, with a non-group insurance plan, you can imagine that the expense of a hospital visit would lead to unwelcome "progress" in paying off our annual deductible.

But the seminary does provide its students, faculty and staff with alternatives: Carla Hagan, our campus nurse, and Dr. Lautenschlager, the seminary's volunteer doctor. Although I had discussed the matter with Nurse Hagan after two weeks had elapsed since the "bump" appeared, we had agreed that the circumstance did not warrant an immediate hospital visit and could wait for a doctors appointment. Unfortunately, the doctor is available for appointments only one day per week, so there was an additional delay waiting for his scheduled office hours.

Well, it turns out that I don't have a hernia, which is good because the surgical procedure required to repair a hernia would be costly and the post-op recovery might interfere with my attendance on campus. What I do have is an enlarged lymph node... how pleasant!

Unfortunately, that's just the symptom; we don't have a diagnosis yet. In the end, the doctor cleared me for whatever activities I could tolerate comfortably (a swollen lymph node does "get in the way" in ways you would not expect until you start sitting in a chair most of the day), put me on an antibiotic, and ordered a blood test be performed. I guess I will just have to keep you posted as the situation develops...

In the meantime, I appreciate your prayers that the doctors and other medical professionals would practice their craft with all of the knowledge and wisdom granted them by Our Father.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mount Calvary Lutheran Church - Brentwood, MO - 13 July 2008

After arranging for our daughter, Emily, to attend pre-school at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church "sight unseen" on the recommendation of another seminary family, we finally joined with that congregation for worship last Sunday. The picture below is taken from the back of the sanctuary after the divine service was complete.

Rev. Darrell Zimmerman is the pastor of this congregation (although there are a number of ordained clergy serving the LCMS synodical administration who attend and support the congregation's life of service and worship); he led our gathering in songs of praise and presented a sermon on the gospel reading, the Parable of the Sower. He drew attention to the way the sower threw the seed far and wide, seemingly unconcerned by the "waste". Thankfully, we know this is not waste at all; we trust the words and promises of our gracious Father (e.g. Isaiah 55:10-11).

Why Can't the English Teach Their Children How to Speak?

One of the "must do" activities in St. Louis is the MUNY (pronounced "myu-nee") in Forest Park. The Municipal Opera Association of St. Louis (the full name according to wikipedia) is an outdoor amphitheatre which hosts an annual series of musicals. This year's lineup includes The Producers, My Fair Lady, Miss Saigon and Fiddler on the Roof.

The MUNY's popularity amongst seminary students is heightened by the set of free seats (in the back, of course) that have been set aside for every show and are ticketed on a first-come, first-served basis each night. This was how Heather and I had planned to view "My Fair Lady", our first MUNY performance.

But we were in for a pleasant surprise! No sooner had we gotten into line than a couple (named Mark and Laura, we later learned) came up to us and asked if we were in the line for the free tickets. After replying "I sure hope so", Mark handed me a pair of tickets for seats two sections closer to the stage! Although we managed to get a dumb-struck "thank you" out before they walked off while saying "we'll see you inside", we were certainly caught off-guard!

With assigned tickets, we no longer needed to wait in a long line to get into the show; so we availed ourselves of the opportunity to sit on a park bench next to one of the numerous ponds in Forest Park and enjoy the evening. (We did go in to the show early enough to greet our benefactors, thank them properly, and enjoy a pleasant conversation with them about their experiences in St. Louis and their children's theatre activities.)

The evening was near perfect! The sets were beautiful and made very effective use of light and shadow. The troupe was "on". The weather was perfect (a rain storm had gone through right before the show and dropped the temperature and the humidity). Heather, who loves My Fair Lady, sang all the way through (despite admonitions in the program to the contrary). We even remembered to bring our field glasses to get a better peek at the sets and costumes that we typically have at past musicals.

Saturday Youth Soccer

Last Saturday, David took part in his first "summer youth soccer" practice. He is pictured below with his teammates and their coach, Mr. Joe. The field where they played is just east of our apartment complex and west of the regular academic campus. This field is used by the regular seminary soccer team, the pick-up league, the baseball teams (intramural and league-play), and informally by others.

Several weeks before Heather and the kids arrived, an announcement about the summer soccer league was posted on the SWA (Seminary Wives Association) newsgroup on Yahoo. At that time, David expressed an interest in participating. Although he missed the first couple of meetings, he had no trouble slipping right in with the other kids as they dribbled the balls around a big square to the sound of Mr. Joe switching between "turtle!" (i.e. slow dribbling) and "cheetah!" (i.e. not slow). The kids had a ball! (Yes, intended...)

Prof'n'Stein with Professor Oschwald

Last Friday night, I did my civic duty and participated in an "emergency" Prof'n'Stein. For those who do not know (and I expect that's most of you), a Prof'n'Stein is a Friday evening gathering of seminary students and faculty to enjoy a cache of well-chosen libations and listen to one of the faculty wax on a topic of interest to the student body. I have been told that these "monologues" are usually light fare. Last time, Dr. Voelz spoke on his thesis that one should not model himself as a pastor after Saint Paul because "Saint Paul wasn't a pastor".

Although I missed the regularly scheduled Prof'n'Stein a couple of weeks ago, I was motivated by the urgent "call to arms" published in the daily announcements. Apparently, someone had purchased too many refreshments for the most recent "new student" reception - something had to be done before the stores spoiled! (How bottles would "go bad" is beyond me, but mine is not to reason why...)

Pictured above is Dr. Jeffrey Oschwald presenting his thesis to the assembly. As you can see, he was expressing his desire to see the "libation of choice" for the Prof'n'Stein events changed to Port. Recognizing that this would necessitate a change in the name of the event, Dr. Oschwald suggested "Port-a-Prof".

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fireworks in Kirkwood

Since we were unpacking over the weekend of the Fourth, we did not feel we had time to take a whole afternoon and evening off to participate in any of the major events in the St. Louis area. But it just did not seem right to let the holiday by without viewing a fireworks display.

So after dinner, we grabbed a blanket and headed out to Kirkwood to take in their fireworks display. The kids really enjoyed the whole experience, from lounging on the blanket for the half hour before the display started, and the strawberry sorbet we split, to the fireworks themselves.

All in all, a fine first outing for the recently resettled Rosenkoetter family!

Monday, July 7, 2008

St. Paul's Lutheran Church - Des Peres, MO - 6 July 2008

With the arrival of Heather and the kids at seminary, there were new factors to consider in choosing which local congregation we should join for worship this past Sunday. In addition to the obvious desire to find a children's Sunday School program for David and Emily, we were also wrestling with the conflicting desires to visit a variety of congregations in the St. Louis area and the desire to settle into a single church home. The latter desire also has the added benefit of increasing the stability our children feel during this transition; but the stability might only be temporary, as I will be assigned to a field work congregation in September.

Our indecision lasted until Saturday night, but we ended up returning to St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Des Peres, MO to hear God's Word and receive His Body and Blood.

The sermon was given by Pastor Tim Seban, just like last week. Pastor Seban drew heavily from both the Gospel lesson (Matthew 11:25-30) and the Epistle (Romans 7:14-25a). He pointed to Jesus as the One who releases us from the weight of our own inability to live up to the Law and find righteousness before the Father for ourselves. Unfortunately (for me), Emily was particularly squirmy during the sermon; so my attention was divided throughout the sermon.

Getting the Band Back Together Again

Compared to the work of July 1, July 2 was pure joy. Heather, David and Emily drove from Noblesville, Indiana (where they have been staying with Heather's parents, Tom and Sarah Clark) to join me here at our new apartment on campus. They arrived around noon as my class was breaking for lunch.

There are few things that top having my son screech "Daddy!" as he bounds out of the truck, to the sidewalk by the chapel, over to me and launches himself into my arms to give me a hug! Emily, Heather and I were equally happy to be together again, but our hugs were a little more restrained. (This is a very good thing... no matter how petite Heather is, she is still considerably heavier than David!)

Although this homecoming just ushered in a long and tiring July 4th weekend of unpacking and getting settled together again, it was a very good day!

Moving Day ... Again!

After class on July 1, I checked into our family's new apartment in the Woods on the west side of campus. It was moving day again!

My dad, Art Rosenkoetter, had arrived in the middle of class during the break for chapel and we had picked up the rental truck. He and Jeff Miller then proceeded to load the truck at record pace. They delivered the first of two, fourteen-foot long truckloads to our new apartment.

We had made plans with my Uncle Marvin after he got off work to load and unload our piano, but he delivered a pleasant suprise! Shortly after checking into the apartment and before we had really begun to unload anything into the apartment, Marvin called to say he had left work early and was on his way over to help.

Having a team of four made moving in a pretty short exercise. We closed out the day at Fortel's Pizza Den and watching the St. Louis Cardinals on a very large screen television!

I am extremely grateful to everyone who continues to volunteer their time to make this transition so much easier on my family! Thank you!

Latest from Ole and Lena

When Sven saw Ole's cute little baby, he asked, "Is your baby spoiled?" Ole replied, "No, he always smells this way."