Oh my goodness.  OMG.  Oh, Lord!  Oh, come on! 

We use the phrases “Oh!” and “O!” to begin statements we feel strongly about.  But there is a long history behind this popular exclamation.

O Antiphons are specific titles to praise God, used the last seven days of Advent in various liturgical Christian traditions.  The definition of an antiphon is comes from two Greek words, opposite and voice.  Antiphons are a kind of call-and-response used in worship.

No one quite knows where these O Antiphon phrases originated, but historical records show them in use from 480 AD. Each antiphon is a name of Christ, one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture.

Gregorian chants for the night office of Christmas. Monastery of Solesmes, 1895

They are:

December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)

December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)

December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)

December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)

December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)

December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)

December 23: O Emmanuel (O God is with Us)

You may recognize these titles for Jesus in the popular Advent Hymn, O Come, O Come Emanuel, which is a paraphrase of this ancient liturgy.

Now, after all that background, I’d like you look carefully at our first reading for the First Sunday in Advent (November 27, 2011).  How many “O” phrases can you find in Isaiah 64:1-9?  What is Isaiah longing for in this passage?

O Savior of the nations, come!  Amen.

Around the Table

Think of the precious faces that will be traveling from near and far to gather around your Thanksgiving table in just a few days.  What would it be like to offer some holy moments of table fellowship before everyone digs in (or dashes off to watch football, play video games, and wash the dishes)?  -A blessed holiday to you and yours from pastorhh and pastorcl.

THANKSGIVING 2011  Some ideas for sharing gratitude in the home this holiday.


Take turns sharing memories of Thanksgivings past.  What foods, traditions, funny or meaningful moments has your family shared?

If you were a Pilgrim, venturing to a new land, what would you take with you? What would you leave behind?

Meditate on this quotation of G.K. Chesterton:  I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.


To use at your family meal, try printing the following prayer on paper and assigning sentences to family members, so there is a beautiful offering of many voices.

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we humbly thank you for your goodness to us and to all that you have made. 

We praise you for your creation, for keeping us and all things in your care, and for all blessings of this life. 

Above all we bless you for your immeasurable love in redeeming the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the hope of glory. 

And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies that with thankful hearts we praise you, not only with our lips but our lives, by giving ourselves to your service. 

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be all worship and praise, now and forever.  Amen.

-Adapted from the General Thanksgiving, Evangelical Lutheran Worship: pg 74.

Gratitude is heaven itself. -William Blake

The Day of the Lord

Zephaniah the prophet, an obscure writer in the Old Testament canon, is rarely read in worship on Sunday mornings.  This Sunday, November 13, we will hear Zephaniah’s oracles of judgment.  [When you read this passage, you will see why the church likes to tuck Zephaniah away so often!]

One compelling thing gets lost when we ignore Zephaniah.  Because Zephaniah’s contemporaries said something we can all relate to.  Centuries ago, Zephaniah observed his society’s people resting on their dregs, saying to one another: “The Lord will not do good, nor will he do harm.”

In other words, it doesn’t matter what happens.

God and God’s role in society–

in human life–

in the daily grind–



What will be, will be.  Que sera, sera.

Or as a teenager would put it:  WHATEVER.

The problem with the “whatever” mentality is under that simple, but very widespread, emotional resignation, evil flourishes.  Secrets fester.  Bad decisions get overlooked, swept under the carpet.  Out of sight, out of mind.

Complacency is an enemy to all that is good and right and true in any society.  And have you noticed? Zephaniah’s divine oracle, directly condemning complacency, is all over Sports Illustrated this week.

The Day of the Lord might be as near as the outcry over a deplorable scandal at Penn State University.

PSU trustee John Surma at press conference


With the recent death of Steven Jobs many discussions of his successes have followed.  Recently, “the seven secrets” of Steve Jobs’ success (stated by Consultant Carmine Gallo), have been published, secrets no doubt thousands of people will try to follow as they seek joy and happiness.  The thought of Jobs’ success begs the question, “What is success?”  Our lectionary gospel reading for this Sunday is Matthew 5:1-12, also known as the Beatitudes.  Here Jesus gives his 12 newly chosen disciples the promise of blessedness, or succeeding in joy, when a variety of difficulties are (or will be) encountered.

The successes Steve Jobs encountered along his life journey are very unlikely for most of us, but the list of challenges Jesus describes for the journey facing his disciples sound very familiar to a normal life.  However we choose to seek success in our lives, the reality of hardship and disappointment will be part of it.  I’m comforted by Jesus’ promise of blessedness and joy to prevail in the midst of my normal reality.

2nd Annual PACK THE PEWS Sunday

When:  November 6, 2011

Where:  First Lutheran Church – 434 First Street SW, Blooming Prairie, MN

Who:  Everyone!  Bring a Friend!  Visitors Expected!

What:  A day to celebrate our mission as a congregation.  We are calling it “All Saints – All Thanks” Sunday.

The schedule is as follows:

9:00 am Coffee Fellowship

9:30 am Sunday School

10:00 am Worship for All

11:15 am Potluck Celebration Dinner

Plates, cups, silverware provided.  If your last name begins with letters A-K, bring a salad or dessert, L-Z a hotdish or entree.