Books. Stacks and stacks of books. Really old, old, not-so old and newish books. I see them in front of me in four or five locations, from basements to attics to bookshelves to briefcases to bedside table. They're my books, and I have way too many of them. I will be putting together a list of titles and email-blasting an invitation to anyone and everyone to assist me (and Judy). It's time to right-size my library.
It doesn't end with books, of course. Papers, tchotchkes, buttons, banners, gimcracks, medals, ribbons, plaques, old trophies – boxes of these. Don't mess with the trophies – those are important! Golf trophies from the 1960s, for instance. Who could forget that wonderful chip shot on the 18th hole in 1967? It's not easy to let go. It's not easy to determine what is "right-sizing" versus what is tossing out junk versus what is heaving out treasured memories.
I recently received a book recounting the history of the Atlantic District on its Twenty-fifth Anniversary in 1931. The tome, written by Karl Kretzmann, goes way back to the origins of Lutheranism in America, and eventually settles on the beginnings of the Missouri Synod in New York, where a Rev. T. Brohm was once the Synodical Vice-President for the Eastern region of the Synod, the mother of the Atlantic District.
The more recent history of the Atlantic District now needs to be written with a cross next to the name of one of its spiritual leaders. Rev. Dr. Ronald F. Fink, President of the Atlantic District from 1976-1989, died in the Lord on December 27, 2014. The suddenness Ron's death stunned all of us who knew him. He had travelled up from Pennsylvania to Putnam Valley to proclaim the Gospel several nights before on Christmas Eve at St. Luke's Lutheran, where son-in-law Bill Vangor serves as pastor. Then he was gone, and on New Year's Day hundreds gathered with Millie and the family at Faith Lutheran Church in Easton, Pennsylvania for a wonderful celebration of life, life eternal and the feast of victory.
By Rev. Dr. David H. Benke
On October 29, the streets were thumping in Far Rockaway. Literally. Two years to the day after Superstorm Sandy devastated that beach and bay peninsula with all its focused force, the roadbed on Beach 25th and Seagirt Avenue is a trench. The sewer system is being replaced, pipe by pipe. Jackhammers, excavators and that rock-breaking thumper attached to a crane provide the percussion section in repair and reconstruction symphony orchestra.
Political, community and church leaders were present right there on the corner, the choral representatives bringing sounds of praise and thanksgiving. Because this was the day of the dedication of the Kenneth and Karen Ko Hope and a Prayer Center by the Sea, Where Dignity Prevails, at 25-17 Seagirt Avenue, Far Rockaway, New York.
It's a beautifully-renovated facility. The neighbors are fully aware that this is a house of healing and comfort, and that its heart is the Gospel of Jesus. On a corner and in a building that has been long-term tough, drug-dealing evil, fighting and screaming harsh, wind and wave battered, the calm and peace of the Stiller of the storm is now available. Where professors of the street have educated with the rule of an eye for an eye, the Golden Rule will be the lesson taught. The Meeting Room creates space for small groups to create new possibilities. The Prayer and Counseling room will grant individual and guided conversation to the weary and troubled. The Great Room will bring residents together to forge community instead of go-it-alone survival, and has the potential to bring over 50 together for everything from large sessions to Bible study, prayer and praise. The windows are large and state that transparency is our way of being, with an invitation to enter.