Friday, January 22, 2010

A Precious Mom - Who Enjoyed History

Those of you who visit this column on a regular basis know that it's unusual for me to go so long without writing a new blog. For the last two weeks I've been in the Pacific Northwest. The first ten days were spent at my dear mother's bedside, before she left this vale of tears to enter the presence of her Lord and Savior in Heaven.

Since then, between accomplishing various tasks to prepare for her memorial service and the arrival of family from all over the world, I have had some time to reflect on the many gifts and the wonderful life with which God abundantly blessed mom throughout her almost 90 years on earth.

Mom actually loved History. She earned a Masters Degree in History in the early 1940s, at a "time in history" when it was rather unusual for women to return to college to acquire a graduate degree. I realize now that it was she who engendered and nurtured a love of history in my own life. Each summer when we took the annual family vacation road trips, the travel itinerary always included visits to state capitol buildings, museums, famous geological formations, Cowboy-and-Indian Era towns or forts, and anything else of interest about the United States and its history. She enjoyed these family holidays. And she succeeded in including these educational excursions in the midst of our vacations in a way whereby we didn't even realize that she was secretly "homeschooling" us on the road!

Mom was a great planner and organizer. In August 2009 she and dad visited our Pennsylvania home and we had a wonderful time together. After a great game of pinochle, she made an unusual request. "Cheryl, I'd like you to take a picture of me. I'd like you to take a nice picture for my obituary." As comical as I thought the request was, especially since she looked and felt so well, I honored her request. She looked at the digital photo right away and was pleased with the result. How odd it is now, to be using that photo, exactly five months after it was taken. It is the same photo that appears at the top of this blog.

For those of you who have not read the tribute that I wrote to mom on Mother's Day 2009, please go into the Woman of the Week archive (on this website) and click on May 10, 2009 - Dorothy (Bauman) Freitag.

What a privilege it has been to be the daughter of my mother; to be instructed by her example of Christian faith and life; to have her ever-listening ear and receive counsel from her in so many areas of life; and to have had the privilege of being with her as she walked through the gates of Heaven into the presence of Jesus. "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Concordia Deaconess Conference

January 12 marks the 30th birthday of the official inauguration of Concordia Deaconess Conference - Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

Chapters 14 and 15 of In the Footsteps of Phoebe go into detail about the origin and colorful history of this deaconess conference, started by nine confessional deaconesses in 1980.

Concordia Deaconess Conference is launching a new BLUES NEWS newsletter format and celebrating its anniversary throughout 2010, including a special 30th anniversary conference to be held at Concordia University Chicago, June 23-26, 2010.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Concordia Deaconess Conference!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Prayer for Commemorating William Passavant

January 3, 2010 saw the addition of a new "feast" to the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church: the commemoration of William Passavant!

To my mind this would be an appropriate addition to Lutheran calendars as well, given the fact that Passavant was the Lutheran pastor who arranged for Theodor Flieder to bring four of his deaconesses from Kaiserswerth (Germany) to Pittsburgh in order to help him run the Pittsburgh Infirmary (which became the first Protestant Hospital in the United States). Of course the LCMS has an even tighter connection with Passavant, in that after two of these women served as deaconesses under him, they married LCMS pastors and one of them played a part in the history of the deaconess movement in the Synod.

The Collect (prayer) used by the Episcopal Church for commemorating William Passavant on January 3 is found in a new publication, Holy Women, Holy Men (2009):

"Compassionate God, we thank you for William Passavant, who brought the German deaconess movement to America so that dedicated women might assist him in founding orphanages and hospitals for those in need and provide for the theological education of future ministers. Inspire us by his example, that we may be tireless to address the wants of all who are sick and friendless; through Jesus the divine Physician, who has prepared for us an eternal home, and who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Loehe on Deaconesses and 1 Timothy 5:3-16

Most often when Bible passages are discussed in relation to the office of deaconess, the starting point for discussion is Romans 16:1. Wilhelm Loehe - in a series of paragraphs titled "On the Deaconess" which he wrote in 1858 - was additionally very interested in the application of 1 Timothy 5:3-16 to the female diaconate.

Loehe wrote, "Holy Scripture contains a passage, which does not, to be sure, talk about the office of the deaconess, but has nonetheless been interpreted as talking about the deaconess office from time immemorial; it is the passage 1 Timothy 5:3-16. When we have just said that the passage has been interpreted as talking about the deaconess office from time immemorial, we must not think of a unanimous and general interpretation of the Christian Church. Two great teachers of the ancient church who were in office during the second half of the 4th Century, the oriental John Chrysostom, patriarch of Constantinople, and the occidental Ambrose, archbishop of Milan, see the adduced passage talking about nothing else but the care of widows. Contrariwise, others, like the occidental Tertullian, who died in 220, and the oriental Epiphanius, who died in 403, already hold that the passage talks about the vocation of deaconess. The view prevailed in later times and has become the generally accepted one. If the passage talked only about the care of widows, one has said, it would be hard to see, why the selection of the widows to be cared for was so tightly attached to certain moral and other virtues, since Christian mercy does not make such great distinctions; therefore widows have to be in mind who, on the one hand, to be sure, are cared for, but who, on the other hand, are employed for the blessing of the congregations. There is something to commend this view, and the entire antiquity has therefore taken the requirements for the deaconess office from this passage."
[Quotation taken from Wilhelm Loehe on the Deaconess, translated by Holger Sonntag.]