Thursday, October 29, 2009

Watching History Repeat Itself

My husband and I are back in the United States after a wonderful holiday in the United Kingdom. I say that the time away was wonderful - not for the sake of the rest that it provided to body, soul, and mind - but because we were together with our entire nuclear family. Every one of our six children, daughter-in-laws, and three grandchildren were present.

The experience of such a reunion brings much joy. But on this occasion, the reason for the gathering brought even greater joy. Our son Gordon was ordained into the Holy Ministry.

It's funny what goes through a mother's mind on such an occasion. Looking at him in the chancel, I actually thought about the day he was born. I remembered how he struggled with issues in primary school and in junior high. I remembered how much he loved to play rugby and could see him coming through the door in mud-covered rugby kit. I thought about his never-ending smile and blond hair, and how when he got to high school he had such a passion for sharing Jesus with his school mates.

I thought too about how history was repeating itself. When I looked at Gordon and his wife and two children, it took me back to the day in 1982 when my husband was ordained, in the same country (England), in the same customary manner at a closing worship service of the ELCE Synod, also with a wife and two children. My husband was then placed as Pastor in the only Lutheran congregation in the country of Scotland. Last week Gordon was placed as Pastor in the only Lutheran congregation in the country of Wales.

Knowing the love and mercies of God, we thank and praise God for the life of service ahead of Gordon and His family. God is faithful, and that is a proven history that will continue to repeat itself over and over again in our lives - and in the lives of our children.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

History in Cardiff, WALES

Today was one of those very special days; a day with silhouetted mind photos that will live in the memory more vividly than any synthetic photograph. First of all, my husband and I were walking, each holding one of the hands of our two-year-old granddaughter, and from time to time taking turns holding her 7-month-old sister. That was pure joy in itself.

However, the memory gets even better. We were in Cardiff, Wales, at the Museum of Welsh Life in St. Fagin's, within walking distance of where our son will be installed as a pastor on October 18. [That in itself is kind of an amazing story. A young man born in Scotland of American/British parents, raised in England, studied in England and Canada, married to a lovely American gal in the state of Montana, and now poised to live and serve the Lord in Cardiff, Wales. But I digress!]

As we walked through the outdoor exhibits I was struck by the wonder of History and the archeology that had contributed to this particular History. We walked through the replica of a 2000-year-old Celtic village; toured authentic ancient homes, chapels, and schoolhouses that had been moved to the museum from various parts of Wales, and almost best of all, walked through a series of row houses, starting with one built in 1800, each house having been built 40-50 years after the last one in the row. The progression of interior design in this row of houses was fascinating, from the change in window and stair designs to the cooking facilities, bedding and wall hangings. What a commentary on Life in the country of Wales.

Interestingly, in the row houses of the early and mid-20th century, there were articles that could be found in the homes of my own grandparents and parents, even during the time that I was growing up. What a strange sensation to view part of one's own life in a 'still life' documentation of History! That's something for all of us to muse upon from time to time.

Friday, October 2, 2009


We all know that Martin Luther wrote and lectured so much that researchers can find something authored by him (or said by him and jotted down by one of his students) on just about any subject.

I was recently thumbing through a notebook one of my sons brought home from a Classical Education conference which included several pages of interesting Luther quotations focused on various aspects of education. Of course the one on History really caught my attention:

"Hence, too, historians are the most useful of men, and the best teachers. Nor can we ever accord too much praise, honor, or gratitude to them; and it should be the work of the great ones of the eart, as emperors, kings, and the like, to cause a faithful record to be made of the history of their own times, and to have such records sacredly preserved and set in order in libraries. And, to this end, they should spare no expense, which may be needful, to educate and maintain those persons whose talents mark them out for this task.

But he who would write history, must be a superior man, lion-hearted and fearless in writing truth. For most manage to pass by in silence, or at least to gloss over the vices of the mischances of their times, to please great lords or their own friends; or they give too high a place to minor, or it may be, insignificant actions; or else, from an overweening love of country, and a hatred toward foreign nations, they bedizen or befoul histories, according to their own likes or dislikes. Hence it is that a suspicious air invests histories and God's providence is shamefully obscured; so the Greeks did in their perverseness, so the Pope's flatterers have done heretofore, and are now doing, till it has come to this, at last, that we do not know what to admit or what to reject. Thus the noble, the precious, and highest use of history is overlooked, and we have only a vain babble and gossip. And this is because the worthy task of writing annals and records is open to everyone without discrimination; and they write or slur over, praise or condemn, at their will.

How important, then, is it, that this office should be filled by men of eminence, or at least by those who are worthy. For, inasmuch as histories are records of God's work, that is, of His grace and His displeasure, which men should believe with as much reason as if the same stood written in the Bible, surely they ought to be penned with all diligence, truth and fidelity."