Saturday, December 1, 2007

Celebrating Advent, 2007

As most of my close friends know, I consider Advent to be the most important season on the Christian's calendar. It's not just that Advent leads up to Christmas, it is much more than that. The Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ was God's declaration of love for his creation -- "For God So Loved The World, That He Gave His One and Only Son..." -- but it is this unbelievable concept of the "INCARNATION", the IMMANUEL, that is "God is With Us". God's love conquers a world full of sin...of hate, suspicion, material end alls and racial divide. He has given us all a picture of His Kingdom that we are invited into. It is not a Kingdom of the rich and powerful, of the movers and shakers, it's the "Upside-Down" character of God that comes flying in for all to see... "you gotta be kidding me. God says he is going to change the world and that sin will be no more, and he sends a baby!" Yes, a baby.

Every year I celebrate Advent with great fervor. I have completed a series of meditations for Advent and since Advent begins this week, Sunday the 2nd of Dec., and the first week goes until Saturday the 8th, I wanted to make them available to some friends. I sent out a bunch to people on thursday of this week, but I may not have gotten everyone, especially if I have outdated email addresses.

IF you read this, and want to track along, you can contact me at and I'll be glad to send you the weekly meditations. Either way, may you be blessed and filled with the "wonder of his birth".


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Grandson bragging

Well, it's "All Saints Eve" and I get this chance to do some Grandson bragging. My Grandson, Jack, is now four months and a week old. He is a real joy to my heart.
Earlier this month Sarah had an emergency appendectomy and after her hospital stay she and Chris came out to live with us so that Sarah could recuperate. Well, that meant that for several days Jack lived with us and I had the time of my life. Sure, there's crying and diapers and spitting up... (remember the saying in Proverbs about 'where there is no oxen there's a clean stall'?). But, a Grandson's smile at his Grandpa is enough to melt the heart!

So, without further adieu, my Grandson, Jackson...age four months.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Celbrating All Saints Day

Tomorrow is October 31st, which means that all sorts of young people will be dressed in costumes, and will soon be "trick or treating" Wednesday night in most cities in the U.S. and some other countries.

I hope it does not surprise you to know that "Halloween" (by that name) started out as a Christian celebration?

“Hallow”, in Old English, means "holy" or "sacred” (“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name” begins the Lord’s Prayer). Therefore, "Hallows' Eve," or "Halloween" simply means "the evening of holy persons" and refers to the evening before All Saints Day, which is always on November 1 in both Anglican and Catholic calendars. Halloween is a mixture of Celtic religious ideas and Christian martyrology.

In the early years when the Roman Empire persecuted Christians, so many martyrs died for their faith, that the Church set aside special days to honor them. For example, in 607 Emperor Phocas presented to the pope the beautiful Roman Pantheon temple. The pope removed the statues of Jupiter and the pagan gods and consecrated the Pantheon to "all saints" who had died from Roman persecution in the first three hundred years after Christ. Many bones were brought from other graves and placed in the rededicated Pantheon church. Since there were too many martyrs for each to be given a day, they were lumped together into one day. In the next century, All Saints Day was changed by Pope Gregory III to today's date--November l. People prepared for their celebration with a night of vigil on Hallows' Eve -- Halloween (possibly because of the strong holdover influence of the Celtic Samhein festival which many Christians in Ireland, Britain Scotland and Wales had continued to observe).

In the 10th century, Abbot Odela of the Cluny monastery added the next day--November 2nd--as "All Souls" Day" to honor not just the martyrs, but all Christians who had died. People prayed for the dead, but many unchristian superstitions continued. People in Christian lands offered food to the dead--as it had been in pagan times. The superstitious also believed that on these two days, souls in purgatory would take the form of witches, toads, or demons and haunt persons who had wronged them during their lifetime. As happens so often in Church history, sacred Christian festivals can absorb so many pagan customs that they lose their significance as Christian holidays.

While there are many reasons to avoid Halloween, the day has significance in the church for remembering the many who gave their lives as martyrs. Sure, as an evangelical, I don’t agree with the narrow definition of “saint” that has made some more prominent after death than others. The word “saint” comes from the greek word, “hagios”, which is simply means “holy ones”. Paul uses it as a way of greeting communities of believers at the beginning of most of his letters: Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Ephesians and Philippians to name a few.

For me, there is great significance in celebrating these two days of Oct. 31st and Nov. 1st. As someone who loves church history, my own love of this day of celebration comes from the history of the Reformation. Martin Luther was an oppressed Christian monk trying to win God’s favor through penance and works, even after his ordination to be a Priest in 1507. His mentor, a wiser man with a better understanding of the Gospel, ordered Luther to begin studies as a theologian. Luther immersed himself in the study of the Bible and the early Church. Soon terms like penance and righteousness took on new meaning for Luther, and he became convinced that the Church had lost sight of several of the central truths of Christianity taught in Scripture — the most important of them being the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Luther began to teach that salvation is completely a gift of God's grace received by trusting God alone by faith. The church in Wittenberg, Germany, that he also pastored was called “All Saints Church”. After a series of confrontations with some church charlatans who paraded “indulgences” before people as a way of purchasing their way out of purgatory, Luther could stand know more. On October 31, 1517 – that’s right, 490 years ago tomorrow, Luther nailed to the door of the Castle Church “95 Theses”, or disputations, arguments, against the faulty theology of indulgences, and other issues of the theology of salvation, arguing for the need for the gospel to be defined as salvation by grace through faith, alone. His purpose was to make an open invitation to debate these arguments. Well, we know what happened. The church in Rome called him a “drunken German monk”, and within a few months he was declared a “heretic” – kicked out of the church. The “Protesting” church movement that is our lineage, began around Luther because of his bold desire to bring truth to the church, coupled with the greed and power hungry pride of the Roman leaders who fought much needed reforms. Certainly there is much to be desired at times in our own Protestant family tree. We hardly feel we can call what we see “saintly”; but it is on this day of celebration that I am reminded of the great price that truth and freedom for our faith has come.

SO…let’s change this day of Halloween into a celebration of remembrance for all the saints who sought to obey Good and model for us a life of service to him and his church.

Years ago Linda and I concerned for what Halloween meant in our culture, and the pull it had on all kids, decided to do something positive instead of reacting negatively to the day. We made Halloween a huge family celebration of Bowling and Pizza…and because so many people were trick or treating, we generally had both bowling alleys and pizza parlors pretty much to ourselves. Our kids loved it…looked forward to it every year. In fact, as time went along others began to join us until at it’s zenith our church fellowship took over an entire bowling alley! As our kids grew up we have stopped going to the bowling alley, but the pizza party still remains. In honor of Martin Luther, I drink a German toast with an Italian pastry!

With warm greetings to all you saints

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

New Beginnings

It seems I'm in a time period of new beginnings. What I mean by that is that there are several areas where I'm either involved in, or initiating something new.
First, I'm doing a bunch of weddings in both June and July -- hence new beginnings for couples to begin their married life. I love doing weddings. I love seeing beautiful brides and dashing grooms smile, celebrate family, and solemnly lead them to realize the vows they are saying to one another.
Secondly, Linda and I are involved with Retrouvaille -- a ministry for marriages in crisis. These are couples who are separated, divorcing, or actively struggling with the whole idea of staying married. Retrouvaille was a powerful place of correction in our marriage, and giving back by being involved and helping others seems so right to do. This last weekend 26 couples came to a Retrouvaille weekend...nervous, wondering if it was going to help...and when I came on Sunday afternoon to help wrap things up, I noticed two couples standing out in the parking lot, smiling...together...sharing life...It was a new beginning time.
3) Lastly, I'm enjoying immensely the new status of Grandpa. Little Jack is a joy to hold, smile at, talk to, pray over, bless, etc... If I knew it was going to be this good I'd have married them off 10 years ago...well, not really, but it is good!
I love God...He creates all things new...over and over again.
Oh by the way, Retrouvaille is at - if you need it, try it.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Happy BIrhtday Baby Jack

Hi all,
Well, the long anticipated day arrived on June 22, 2007, when Sarah and Chris gave birth to Jackson Christopher Michael Elliott Pollasch, who was born at 12:15 a.m., @ 9lbs, 3oz. and 19 in. long. I'd say a potential linebacker!
I am a Grandpa for the first time, and extremely glad to be. The wonder of God is the birth of a child, but the wonder that is also full of Thanksgiving is the birth of your own Grandchild..., and the Pollasch name lives on!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Anniversary's, Birthday's and Waiting

It's been a month of celebrating:
Our 36th anniversary was June 12...a remarkable accomplishment from my standpoint...Not because I didn't think I'd love Linda forever; but simply because 36 years of anything seems a long time. NOW...I'd love to be writing something similar 30 years from now.
Greg's Birthday is tomorrow, and on Sunday last (17th), we celebrated His birthday and Father's Day at the same time.
NOW...what everyone is waiting for is Sarah and Chris' baby to come. She/He (my own opinion is that "SHE" is coming) was due last Friday, and wouldn't you know, SHE, in typical girl fashion is late! OK, so not really, it's only a few days. BUT, this morning at 6:30, when the phone rang, Linda was up and off the couch faster than I've seen in years! She laughed as she told Kelly - who called - that early in the morning phone calls shouldn't be toyed with.

SO...we're celebrating, and waiting, so that we can celebrate some more...nothing wrong with that, right?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

England and Scotland

We just returned from a trip to visit our daughter and son-in-law, Lindsay and Peter, who live in Bristol, England. While we were there we had the opportunity to drive up to Scotland for a few days. Of all the places we've visited over the years, England is still our favorite. The reason is simple...friends. We have lots of relationships that have been formed over the years and we love visiting people who we love and who also love us. Our history with England goes back to 1992/93 when we met Dave Day from Bristol Christian Fellowship. As time went along Dave brought many from Bristol to visit us. We also took quite a few trips across the pond to visit them. One of the relationships that opened up in time was Richard and Norma Roberts who now live in the village of Beaminster, in Somerset, south of Bristol by about an 1+hour. This small village is their new home and the place they also own a business.

We spent the first weekend with them and had the opportunity to visit lots of old friends from their fellowship, Mill Church, in East Coker. What is amazing to me is that after almost 3 years being gone, they received us warmly and as if we had only been gone for a short while.

I think the value of relationships is often overlooked. Yet, this was a vivid one for us and we spent time with many... talking, laughing (a lot), and sometimes praying as serious things arose in conversations.

We love Richard and Norma and their kids...of which we saw Sarah and Simon again. Missed you Andy!

After the first weekend we made our trip to Scotland with Lindsay and Pete. The trip to Scotland had some amazing times and places... Edinburgh Castle, John Knox's house, the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. St. Andrews allowed us to see the ruins of an ancient castle and cathedral, as well as sit outside and drink coffee and have lunch in a bustling University cap it all off with a visit to a dream of mine: the Old Course at St. Andrew's golf course. Wow, I couldn't believe it that I was able to walk a section of the Old course that has so much golf history, and to stand on the bridge at the 18th hold that so many great golfers have walked across. Someday....I'll do it with clubs!

We spent two days in Pitlochry, a village at the beginning of the Central Highlands of Scotland and a staging place for a trip to a real Scottish Distillery! I admit it...I love the flavor of a "wee dram" as the Scot's name it...single malt whiskey is a mainstay of Scottish culture. We visited two distilleries: Edradour which has as it's distinction that it is the smallest distillery in all of Scotland, and Glenfiddich, which is the largest distillery worldwide. It's a fascinating trip through both of them and both are very beautiful places. The B&B we stayed at was awesome. We made a site-seeing trip to the "Queen's View"...and awesome overlook of one of Scotland's many "lochs" (Americans it means "lake"). As we drove back we saw the monument for William Wallace and Stirling Castle.

Arriving back, we took the next and final four days to meet friends, drink coffee, tea, and have our share of scone's and jams!

NOW...I end this blog by admitting that I've taken a long time in between the last blog (Jan) and this one, and was "admonished" by one - Emma Duncan -- to start writing again.

SO>>>I'd like to say to all of my young male friends out there that Emma is this wonderful, single, fiery, great cook, loves games, laughs outrageously, and loves wonderfully...very available young woman... There she is playing "Killer Bunnies" with Linda, Lindsay and our friend Paul Banks. OK Emma, the words out!
I'll try to write more blogs!