Monday, the 29th, was a great day. Tuesday was also a great day. I almost have to pinch myself at times like these, to verify that I'm not floating along in dreamland. But, no, it's all been real, and simply grand.
I left the house before 6:00 a.m. on Monday, with my son Nicholai along, and we picked up a couple more of our Emmaus "tall boys" to come with us to the St. Michael's Liturgical Conference at Redeemer in Fort Wayne. Nicholai and his two comrades, Erik and Matthew, assisted with acolyte duties at the conference, and the three of them were proud to do so. I was proud, too, and glad for those young men to have that good learning experience in another parish.
The conference was superb. The several services were excellent, of course, in particular the Divine Service celebrating the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. The preaching was outstanding, which was not only edifying but most appropriate to the emphases of the conference. The three presentations that I heard, by Rev. Karl Fabrizius, Rev. Todd Peperkorn and Rev. Burnell Eckardt, were wonderful expositions of pastoral wisdom and experience, each of them dealing with the task of preaching. Unable to be in two places at once, I did not get to hear Pastor Petersen's presentation, nor Dr. Reuning's, but from what I understand they were also superlative (as was to be expected). It was simply a wonderful and worthwhile gathering.
I'm sorry there weren't more pastors and students able to attend the conference and benefit from it. I was honestly surprised not to see more of the local clergy on hand, but I know well enough that the demands upon a pastor's time are legion. I was grateful for the opportunity to attend, myself, and would happily have driven twice the distance to be there. Learning from my brothers in office concerning those things, such as preaching, so definitive of our vocation, is a blessing beyond price.
The chance, then, also to visit with colleagues at length at the end of the day was a tremendous treat, as well. I'm not sure where the hours went, but they disappeared too quickly. Among the greatest joys in my life are such occasions, when I can banter and debate with brothers in Christ. I'm especially appreciative of such brothers with whom I can even disagree without any rancor or ire between us. Rigorous theological discussion is not simply an enjoyable sport, but a precious opportunity for mutual growth and understanding. Cheers to those dear friends who made my Monday afternoon and evening such a rewarding time well spent.
But that was not yet the end of it. I went from the St. Michael's Conference to visit Jason and Emily and their little John, always one of my favorite things to do. We enjoyed several episodes of "Sports Night" on DVD, and then Jason and I talked theology and church practice until way too late. I was glad for the conversation, even though I felt badly about keeping the poor man up until after midnight, when he had to be up and on his way to work by 7:00 a.m. the next day.
My own Tuesday began in a more timely fashion than I feared it might, and I was consequently able to get in a solid block of time working on my book at the seminary library. That felt good, to be sure. Still, the highlight of the day for me was taking my Beanie out for lunch and getting to visit with her. I had been pleased to see both her and Sam at the St. Michael's Conference the day before, but hadn't really been able to visit much then. On Tuesday, though, I had such a good time chatting with my daughter. Aside from the obvious fact that she will always be so near and dear to my heart, she's just a wonderfully fun person to share time and company with. She's perky, good-natured, optimistic, confident in a comfortable, easy-going way, and always gracious. What is more, she's got that special glow that comes from carrying my first grandchild. Well, what can I say? I'm a proud papa.
And I'm very grateful to be surrounded with such a great cloud of witnesses; not only the angels and archangels, but brothers in arms, family and friends, people who enrich my life with their presence and care. It never ceases to amaze me, but I am all the more glad for reminders like that of the St. Michael's Conference. Enjoying the good company of colleagues and comrades there, helps me to be more aware and appreciative of my many loved ones here in South Bend.