It's been a busy, busy couple of weeks, with heartbreak and mourning, rejoicing, consternation, consolation and hope all mixed in together. Here's a recap:
- February 1-3 I attended MidWinter Convocation at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. My alma mater scheduled a whale of a conference this year: keynoter Diana Butler Bass is just now releasing her new book, Christianity After Religion, and it looks like it's gonna be a doozy.. What I found most helpful was the way she and fellow keynoter Andrew Root put words and legs on some of the ponderings I've been having about next things in the church these past few years. They, like me, see the church in the same existential struggle that roiled its way through Europe in the first 60 years of the 20th century, the age that led Bonhoeffer to proclaim that the task is now for the church to proclaim the gospel in a world "come of age." That time is already upon us in the U.S. - we live in a world that has largely left the church behind. Our religious institutions are no longer a social necessity - so, how shall we live as a church into the future? These are things I'm thinking on these days.
- February 3-5 I drove seven college students across Iowa for a retreat with students from the University of Iowa. Subject was "Being Lutheran" and what that means - and no, we didn't mention lutefisk, Lake Wobegon or Norwegian bachelor farmers. It was largely a great experience and I enjoyed it immensely.
- Unfortunately, I received word on February 4th that my Grandma Janke had died. She had been in hospice for about a week, and we'd been expecting this day to come for a little over a month, but it was still hard. 95 years old and on her own since my Grandpa Janke died in 1987 - what a long, courageous life. We miss her terribly, but this is what she wanted and we grieve with hope for the reunion coming on the Last Day.
- Campus ministry work continues apace - the weekend of February 10-11 was the Spirituality and Dating Retreat planned by our campus ministry, the Roman Catholic campus ministry and the Presbyterian campus ministry at Iowa State. Good conversation, good food and time with good friends, even if it did take up a weekend after an already full week.
- February 12th was the last day I delivered the morning paper. SOUND THE TRUMPETS HALLELUJAH! I'd forgotten what it feels like to be adequately rested - now I've got all this energy and I don't know what to do with it!
- And this weekend. Whew. Friday afternoon we drove to Lincoln, NE for an overnight with good friends before going out to Carol Joy Holling for the first Empyrean Train Run 5K. That's the source of the picture up there (you couldn't have caught me running, guys? Or was it so horrifying you didn't want to post it online?) After the run, we drove back home, and yesterday morning I drove to Creston to supply at a church there before coming back to Ames, picking up our seminary prospects and hauling them up north to Luther Seminary for "A Day in the Life," a 24 hour visit to see the many aspects of campus life at Luther. Got back to Ames at 7 tonight, just in time for the last 90 minutes of our monthly board meeting. Now I'm home and ready for a beer and a little bit of TV before bed.
But, for tonight, I'm tired and ready to rest. Tomorrow I start writing my Lenten devotionals, which will appear here about 6:00 every morning if I can find the strength. Blessings to all three of you who've kept sporadically checking whether or not I'm still alive here - hopefully you'll be joined by other readers in the very near future!