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The Journey of This Pilgrim, Part 7 - Advent Reflections

We are in the 2nd week of this Advent Season..a season I have loved and walked in for several decades of my life.  The story is profoundly simple:

Luke 2:8-14
 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Over the 1000's of years Israel's prophets had been told the day would com…
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The Journey of This Pilgrim, Part 6

Advent is just around the's as the song writer declared:  "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year."  Growing up as a child in the 1950's my world was small.  Fox Lake had the basics, but it was Beaver Dam, a few miles away, that was the "big" shopping city.  Our town was dressed with lighted decorations on the light posts, the stores decorated with Christmas trees in the window displays, and swags of greenery across the walls and doorways.   The village held a Christmas gathering for all kids at the community building.  Santa arrived on a Fire truck, and distributed bags of candy, popcorn balls, and other treats.    Television was relatively new at the time and yet old versions of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus coming to town, and other shows created even more anticipation for Christmas eve, and day.

We had a Christmas program at the church and we were rehearsed to sing and speak a verse of Scripture according Sunday school classes.  …

The Journey of This Pilgrim, Part 5

As the Apostle Paul opens his letter to the Corinthians, he is obviously troubled.  He's heard about their divisions, which seemingly are all based on a cult of person:  some adherents to Paul, some Apollos, some Peter, and some so bold to say they only follow Christ.  What was clear was that they had an incorrect concept of what it meant to be a leader.

I was 16 years old when I got a job working at the local Green Giant canning company.  I started in the Warehouse, driving a fork lift.  At age 16 driving anything was a thrill.  I learned how to wiz around the warehouse with the greatest of ease, and had a few races with other guys I worked with.  Yes, not very wise, but when you're 16 stupidity is just around the corner of almost every thought.  I worked there for about three weeks when one day the night plant manager, Frank stopped me and asked: "I am looking for a night canning foreman.  You would be in charge of sending the vegetables to the correct canning machines …

The Journey of This Pilgrim, Part 4

I am a Christian and have been a committed one since the Fall of 1970.  Growing up in my small town, everyone seemed to be connected to one church or another.  My best friend, Larry, was a Catholic altar boy.  The girl I had an early crush on was Presbyterian.  The Catholic church was "kitty-corner" from the Lutheran church my family belonged to.  The Congregational church was nearby on the same street, and the Presbyterian church was just a block to the west. Being a Christian was to be identified with a church. There was no such thing as "I'm a Christian, but I don't belong to any church." - at least none that I ever knew.
I have little memory of any one growing up whose faith was an influence to me.  I'm not saying there were no faithful people, because I'm sure there were.  I remember delivering papers to one household - the Ipsens.  Lloyd was a guy who told jokes, smiled and laughed, and did the unexpected things...but was really nice guy.  Jea…

The Journey of This Pilgrim, part 3

I've come to love God's word and have had the privilege to study it, teach it to others; but most of all to be transformed by it over these almost 50 years of time that I've given my life to Christ.  I'm now 69 years old and His word is where my faith is founded, where my sin is confronted, where grace is discovered, and my hope is found.  Here's a passage that I love:

Romans 5:6-8
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

While we were still sinners...Christ died for us.  Breathe, relax and release...He's done what I could never do on my own.

As a young boy I had wonderful experiences in a small town.  Fox Lake could have been Lake Wobegon of Garrison Keillor lore where "all the women are strong, all t…

The Journey of this Pilgrim, Part 2.

I wanted to share my story with my grandchildren that they might know where they've come from, and what kind of a person God worked in their Grandfather to become.

When still a young boy I got my first job - delivering newspapers in my home town of Fox Lake.  My best friend, Larry Baszynski and I, had the entire city of 1200+ to deliver to.  I had anywheres between 40 to 50 houses and businesses I delivered to.  It was a pretty good way to earn some money except in Winter when it got cold, snow came, and it got slippery.  Very occasionally my Mother would take pity on me and drive me around in order to avoid trying to ride a bike.  Oh yes, the bike.

My first bike was a single speed Schwinn.  Nothing fancy and fairly straight-forward.  You didn't have extra speeds for either up or down hills.  Just pedal power.  My greatest nemesis was chains that came loose - and if not that, the occasional broken pedal.  For 2-3 hours a day...Sundays were longer...I made about $5-7 a week.  I…

The Journey of This Pilgrim - Part 1

I have often liked the word "sojourn" as a reflective way of describing my journey through life, here on earth, as a child of 69 years old.  Over the course of a few times, I want to write some reflections on my journey as a Pilgrim...if not for anyone else, my hope is that it will help my Grandchildren know a bit about at least one member of their family's past.

My journey began in Sept. of 1949.  I was born a twin with my brother Ed.  We were #'s 5 & 6...there was one more to go.  I was raised in Fox Lake, Wisconsin...a small city of about 1200+ souls at that time.  My parents attended a Wisconsin Synod Lutheran church and therefore by birth and their choice I was raised Lutheran.  I didn't mind it and didn't know there was a difference.  My best friend for years was Catholic.  Larry would tell me about being an altar boy and the mere description of assisting the Priest, standing by to hand him this or that, etc...made me envious.  Still, trut…