Category Archives: What’s Brewing At St. Arbucks

What’s Brewing – December 2017

                          Remembering the Saints in the Lord!

St. Arbucks is not the only place where we meet other saints in the Lord! St. Arbucks is a place, however, where we can remember, review, and recall the many saints in the Lord who have significantly touched our lives through our many years. Let me reflect on one of my special saints who crossed my path, and many others, in very special ways. His name is Pastor Vern Gundermann, who lived and died in the Lord!

Vern taught so many of us how to “live well” and also how to ‘die well”. During his life, he touched thousands of people with his pastoral style, his loving concern, his gracious ways of remembering peoples’ birthdays and anniversaries, and his willingness to always take “the extra mile” to support and encourage others. He was blessed with a strong faith-filled family who supported him all the way, which meant many hours and days where Vern was out and about , ministering to all those with whom he had contact.

After being diagnosed with ALS in the Fall of 2015, Vern continued his ministry to everyone who came near him, keeping in close contact with family and friends, in St. Louis, Minneapolis, and literally throughout the world. He began writing a daily “blog” which was sent out to his network of people. Each day, Vern would begin with the phrase, “Life is good. Life is changing. Life is good!” And that defined hat Vern’s life was all about. Even in the midst of joys and sorrows, struggles and victories, and now even ALS, Vern saw that life was good, in the Lord!

Flash back to the Fall of 1973. The Bimlers were just moving into a new ministry location in Minneapolis and settling into a new home in New Hope, Minnesota. Not knowing much about the area, including local churches to consider joining, Hazel and I went about getting our worldly goods moved into our compact new abode. Since I am not the most talented guy in terms of moving, fixing, or really doing much of anything helpful around the house, we were having difficulties getting furniture arranged and especially troubling was trying to get our washer and dryer hooked up properly. And then the Lord provided for us by somehow having the new local pastor, named Vern Gundermann , stop by for a “welcome” visit. Not only were we impressed with this energetic pastor, but I was especially attracted to the fact that he offered to install our washer and dryer….and he did it!  Needless to say, we joined his parish, thinking of course that if other utilities need repair in the month ahead, we would know who to call!

Vern and Betty’s ministries to and with us were amazing and we continued the connection when both families found each other together again St. Louis a few years later.

During his challenges with ALS, Vern’s daily notes to his friends were spiritual, emotional, and educational, all in one. He would give us a daily update on 1} life – his day’s activities; 2} medical – his physical condition and the latest medical procedures; and 3} his devotional life, through biblical reflections, the 10 Commandments,  and the Lord’s Prayer.

Yes, life is good. Life is changing. Life is good! Vern wrote this e-newsletter daily, later with the help of family members, and it was always an upbeat, positive statement about the love and forgiveness that the Lord was providing him, in the midst of the dreadful disease which captured his body.

Lord, thanks for Vern and his ministry to so many of us. As we remember him, and other saints who you have brought into our lives, we give you thanks. May we also live out a life of knowing and sharing your love and forgiveness, and may we too be led to proclaim, “Life is good; Life is changing; Life is good”, in the Lord!

“For all the saints who from their labors rest……Alleluia, Alleluia!”

And that’s What’s Brewing at St. Arbucks this month!

Rich Bimler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Brewing – November 2017

PARISH SERVANTS – 2017

When it comes right down to it Rich and I are just a couple of garden variety church workers, he an educator and me a pastor. As far as I am concerned those two ecclesiastical serving niches are vocationally about as good as it gets in the church.  But neither is all that safe.  As Martin Luther discovered life on the church’s front lines caught in the cross fire of opposing academic, political and institutional elements of society can be downright dangerous.  

In the 1500s the Reformation’s “founder” found himself trapped between 1) schemes of Rome’s power brokers, 2) conflicting theologians past and present, 3) political ferment within the Holy Roman Empire (Worms was a political event as much as anything else) and 4) Emperor Charles V’s needed European unity as he faced the Muslim forces the gates of Vienna.   No wonder the German monk’s best known hymn was about the importance of having a mighty fortress.  .

So what does all that have to do with a couple of over-age-in-grade 21st century Lutheran parish servants sitting around drinking coffee at Starbucks in the early AM?   Try this.

  • Conflict is still alive between the 21st century equivalents of the 15th century’s four forces. Check them out.
  • Rich and I (and thankfully many others) enlisted as soldiers of the cross for life. We don’t quit.  We are still on duty as parish defenders and servants. 
  • In the historic LCMS ecclesiastical pecking order we see servants-of-the-servants-of God. Got that?
  • As Ephesians 4:11 “pastors and teachers” we believe that as servants we out-rank today’s hierarchical equivalents of those 15th century anti-forces. I wonder, do they know that?  

So what are Rich and I up to of a Saturday morning? 

  • We talk about doing all we can to answer the needs of God’s faithful people whether be individual, families or other Christian church folk.
  • We are determined to do all we can to help the LCMS’s national organization return to itds of s of congregationhs. congregatiins s historic position of serving congregations rather than that congregations are seen as subservient to the synod. 

As we chat we sometime talk about Luther’s observation (with some contemporary add-ons) that, “He who wants a perfect church (synod, parish, family, friend) plainly wants no church at all.” 

While we feel that neither the LCMS nor our current parishes   are perfect, this is for sure: they are ours.  Flawed as they (we) are we’d move on from either in a minute – if we could find another any better.  Until that day we will do all we can to support and be a blessing to the church to which we belong whether national or local.  Or, is that which belongs to us?  Can we talk?

Charlie

What’s Brewing – October 2017

A great resource to bring with you to your next St. Arbucks’ coffee clutch is “Vesper Time”, by Frank Cunningham (Orbis, 2017, $18.00)). It is an “easy read” of 138 pages which focuses on aging in creative, meaningful, and significant ways. Thanks to our friend Pastor Tim Hartner, Weston, Florida, for recommending this new book of powerful insights! The sub title is “The Spiritual Practice of Growing Older”, which summarizes well the theme and intent of this masterpiece.

“Why the title of ‘Vesper Time’“?  was asked early on in our discussion. The author clearly explains that Vespers – or evening prayer – is the 6th of Christianity’s prayerful celebrations of the day’s progression. Vespers is observed at the time of the lighting of the lamps, just before darkness descends. Sounds good to me! By the way, Vespers is widely considered to be the most beautiful of all of the Liturgy of the Hours!  Our study group also pounced on a preponderance of quotable phrases that jump out throughout the pages. One of my favorites focuses on the “grace of aging”: “Aging is about living into our memories, about seeking their meaning, about accepting and being kind to them”. Well said, indeed!

The entire book is an affirmation and acknowledgement that aging is a blessing, a gift from God, and not a burden or a negative narrative of doom and despair. Perhaps you and your group can engage each chapter slowly and intentionally, always asking the good old Lutheran question, “What does this mean?” Make sure your coffee cups are full because you are in for a long and luxurious adventure!

The 5 chapters summarize the author’s personal journey through the aging process as he gracefully shares his experiences and reflections. His 5 topics of experiences are Memory, Intimacy, Diminishment, Gratitude, and Acceptance.   You and your group may want to study these concepts and add, subtract, or change them depending on your own experiences and journey. The most helpful part of this whole process is for each of us to get a better handle on what 5 or more experiences are molding and driving our aging gracefully and joyfully!

I encourage you to dig into this new resource with gusto. Have fun with it. Be challenged by it. Share it with other coffee or even non-coffee drinkers! My hope and prayer is that it becomes another welcoming resource for you to continue to age gracefully in the Lord!

Rich Bimler

What’s Brewing – September 2017

Caution: The “Hurry Sickness” is alive and well in our church and society! Just watch at how people, young and old, zoom in and out of St. Arbucks as they get their morning (or afternoon) brew. As we watch with wonder from our coffee perch, we can sense the adrenalin oozing through the drive-thru line, the order pick up line, and even while people are ordering their special treat the usual way. The “Hurry Sickness” is also evident before and after worship as folks (including myself!) watch their watches to make sure we are “out” in an hour, to hurry a spouse from visiting after the service so we can “go”. And on and on.

Yes, I confess, that I am a recovering “Hurry Sickness” specimen! That is why I am so pleased that in Dick Koehneke’s article this month, he shares some excellent ideas and reflections on “White Space: The Strategic Pause”. If you haven’t already read his column, please do so now. My article can wait!

Larry Dossey, in his book, “Space, Time, and Medicine”, says, “Just as Pavlov’s dogs learned to salivate inappropriately, we have learned to hurry inappropriately. Our sense of urgency is set off, not by a real need to act quickly, but through learned cues.” Our “bells” have become the internet, texts, iPhones, and the hundreds of self-inflicted expectations that we build into our daily routine, including our morning St. Arbucks! The subliminal message is : “Time is running out, life is running down; please hurry!”

It is easy to catch this illness. There is so much to do, so many people to see, so many things to “get ready” for, and on and on. Luther was correct when he said, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” (Okay, so he didn’t say this, but he should have!). Lily Tomlin said it this way, “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat!” The “Hurry Sickness” is a metaphor for all those illnesses brought on by stress, expectations, worrying about failing, and constant pressure. Do we get stressed out because we are stuck in traffic? Do we drive carelessly because we are running late? Do we count the number of items the person has in front of us in a line that says “Express line – 8 items only?” Do we finish each other’s’ sentences? Do we skip a meal to “save time”? Do we “go bananas” when someone is late? Me too!

I feel like the Charlie Brown cartoon that shows Lucy telling Charlie what is wrong with him. When Charlie asks Lucy “What can I do about it?”, she simply says, “I don’t have the answers, my job is only to point out the problem!”

Here again is where Dick Koehneke’s article in this month’s Rich and Charlie Resources is so valuable to us. I also know that Psalm 46:10 continues to be a gem for me: “Be still and know that I am God”. I don’t always “take the time” to hear this, but I do know in faith that the Lord is there attempting to calm the storms in my life and provide the faith and trust so that I can “let go” of my hurried pace. He also sends caring and forgiving people into my life to help me to “remember the Sabbath”, to lighten me up, and to calm me down.

Perhaps you do not have the “Hurry Sickness”. Hooray! You then can help to bring comfort and reassurance to us who are infected. And as for us “Hurry Sickness” folks, and even us contagious ones, let us help one another to connect with the younger and the older in our lives who can settle us down and re-assure us that the Lord who calms the seas can also bring calm to our lives.

And this is what’s brewing at St. Arbucks this morning! Pardon me, now, I have to get in line for my favorite brew!

Rich Bimler

What’s Brewing – August 2017

The focus of conversation at St. Arbucks this month has been how we older adults can become more engaged and connected with the younger generations. Here is an exciting list of possibilities for you and your friends. Enjoy…as we continue to celebrate God’s gift of aging!

                 BACK TO SCHOOL – FROM THE “GOOD OLD DAYS” TO THE “GOOD NEW DAYS”!

As children and youth head back to school, burdened down with their bulging back-packs, we older adults can also be involved in the “back-to-school” process. Here are some handy hints of activities available for the over-65 crowd. Feel free to add your own suggestions as well:

  1. Offer your assistance at an elementary or high school as a volunteer in a class, in the cafeteria, in the library, or on the playground,
  2. Give a “Welcome Back to School” gift to a favorite youngster in your life, like a Starbucks card, food card, prayer booklet, necklace, or …..
  3. Write an e-mail or note to a young person or two, saying that you will be praying for them.
  4. Contact the parents of a student and offer your support and help to them during the school year.
  5. “Sneak” a favorite student or three some spending money, just between you and them!
  6. For college students, bake some yummy cookies and get them in the mail as soon as possible! They will enjoy your thoughtfulness and it will also prevent you from eating them yourself!
  7. Let them know that you will be praying for them throughout the year…and then do so!
  8. Plan to visit the school, just to say HI, to offer to volunteer, and to meet their teachers.
  9. Enroll in a class yourself so you continue to grow and learn along with your younger friends! Lots of on-line courses, community college courses are available.
  10. Send a selfie to a young friend with an “I’m praying for you” tag line.
  11. Text a special young person once in a while, just to say HI, but do not do it tooooo often!
  12. Ask the parents how their kids are doing and inquire how you can continue to help and support them.
  13. Be a greeter at the local elementary school. If Wall Mart can do it, why can’t you do it also!
  14. Look for mentoring and tutoring opportunities in your local school. As you share your gifts with the students you will receive so much more in return from them!
  15. Encourage other older adults around you to join you in doing these and other activities with you. The more the merrier!
  16. Invite youngsters over to your home when they are out of school – just to chat, laugh, tell jokes, and listen to their stories and challenges.
  17. Take youngsters out for a special breakfast or lunch on weekends or when they have a day free from school. Ask them to tell you about their high points and low points of the week, and then listen wisely!
  18. For grandchildren especially, make plans with them to go on a Grandparent/Young Person Vacation Trip to a destination of their choice during a break or long weekend. Obviously, it is best if you set the financial limits and guidelines of such an adventure! One-on one excursions can be great experiences for all!
  19. Plan to attend as many sports events, plays, concerts, and special events where your young friends are participating. Be the best cheerleader, encourager, fanatic fan you can be, but it is probably not wise to point and shout out “There’s my grandchild – isn’t she the best!” (Even though she is!)
  20. Think of at least one specific activity you can do each week to connect with one or more school age kids, whether they are grandkids, neighbors’ kids, or kids from your congregation.

Free One: Remember to thank the Lord for the gift of children of any age as you continue to encourage and empower vibrant, grace-filled living across all generations, in the name of the Lord!

 

 Rich Bimler

What’s Brewing – July 2017

THE DEMOGRAPHIC DILEMMA!

St. Arbucks is a great location to observe and discuss the stages and ages of life. As Charlie and I settle in at our usual table location, we hear and see a delightful mix of young people, older folks, a family or two, and many single folks rushing in to order their specialty drink. Of course, being that we meet on Saturday mornings at 6 AM does skew the demographics , but the point is that a place like St. Arbucks continues to service and attract people of every age.

This raises the question of how can each of us better understand and prepare ourselves to live through the various stages of life in healthy and helpful ways. One approach is to see life in 30-year increments. The following approach is compliments of the January-February issue of Presbyterian Today magazine:

1st Stage – 0-30

2nd Stage – 30-60

3rd Stage -60-90

The First 30 years – a time for acquisition. We learn as infants to do many things. We acquire an education, a job, and perhaps a family. There are great varieties of abilities that we learn and develop.  We learn, we look, we leap, and we listen to the world around us.

The Second 30 years – We do what we have learned and hopefully do it well. It is relatively a stable time, compared with other stages, as we work and participate in family life. We sometimes get so used to our physical and mental abilities that we sometimes think that they will last forever.

The Third 30 years – We begin to shed things that we have acquired in the later years. Kids move on, we re-position from our jobs, we “right-size” our home and lifestyles. Physical and mental abilities change.  People in this phase vary in their abilities to care for themselves and others, similar to the first 30 years.

Our St. Arbucks friends want to know how you respond to this approach to aging. Does it make sense? Is it accurate? What else needs to be added or emphasized?

 “Aging is a spiritual journey, and as we become older each of us becomes more unique.”, states Quentin Holmes. Do you agree? Richard Morgan, author of “Pilgrimage into the Last Third of Life” says that old age can be a time when folks, “whine, recline, and decline”, or it can be a “time to shine” with the Holy Spirit. Well said, we think! Our outlook is determined to a large degree by how we respond to the challenges of aging.

Why not take some time this month to discuss your views and attitudes towards aging. Talk with your peers as well as with those younger and older than yourself.

Hey, we have an idea: Why not frequent a St. Arbucks this month and look for a friendly table to discuss these Three Stages of Life with others?  Perhaps someone will even offer to buy you a “coffee of the day”!

Happy aging, regardless of your Stage of Life, because the Lord continues to bless us through all of our years!

Rich Bimler

What’s Brewing – June 2017

It should come as no surprise that Rich and I spend most of our time whether together at St. Arbucks or out and about concerned with congregations, families and parish leaders.  Parish leaders are by head count more from the people in the pew than the pastor in the pulpit.  Our personal and extensive experiences in the LCMS past and present and our reading of its history from its Day One ranks denominations and their constantly recurring hierarchy of needs way down on our list of Church related priorities. 

In plain and simple language neither the LCMS nor any other similar denominational organization is the Church much as some want to present it as such.  On its best days the LCMS is the servant of the servants of God.  However, today there is a contrarian camel that is trying to gets its nose (and as much more of itself as it can) into the LCMS’s historical and Biblical ecclesiastical tent. 

Those shenanigans are nothing new.  The founders of the LCMS faced that same problem in a classic struggle between Walther’s supporters and those of anti-lay and anti-parish deviants like Grabau and Loehe.  The issue that was settled then when the aberration was espoused outside the Synod has attacked from within.  Pastors and people in parishes are being pressed to underpin the ministry of the national body rather than the national body serve the Biblical ministry of the parish, its pastor and people. 

To learn more about the issues we face, what the camel is doing and what the parishes, pastors and people need to know and do about, a website titled congregationsmatter.org is available to you.  It’s a voice that needs to be heard before things get even darker.  As a couple of those who are still doing all they can to support and encourage families, parishes and local church leaders the creators of Rich and Charlie Resources believe everyone should have access to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

What’s Brewing – May 2017

St. Arbucks is one place that caters to people of all ages …the student, the office worker, the teacher, the salesperson, the older adult, and even people who just come to sit and visit – and not even to drink coffee (these people will remain anonymous, at least for now!)

It is natural, then, that a recent discussion centered around generational issues and how we might be better communicators across these age lines. Therefore, below is a list of statements that we’d like your input on regarding what comments are helpful to building positive relationships and what comments might be detrimental. Your participation is invited. What items would you add? Which statements would you drop?  It really doesn’t matter whether or not you have grandchildren, it’s all about how can we improve our communications between generations.

12 Things to Say to Your Grandchildren:

  1. I love you just the way you are.
  2. I’m sorry – I made a mistake.
  3. You have such a nice smile.
  4. Tell me more about it.
  5. Can you help me with this?
  6. When you are with me, you make me feel special.
  7. You have a great future ahead of you.
  8. I am always here for you – except when you need money!
  9. Sometimes you remind me of your Mom or Dad because……
  10. It is okay to cry.
  11. You can call or text me any time, except during Jeopardy!
  12. Know that the Lord loves you and I love you – always!

On the other hand, here is a list of things not to say to your grandchildren. Try these on for size and again, let us know which ones you would add and/or subtract. Fun exercise, eh?

12 Things NOT to Say to your Grandchildren:

  1. Just between you and me, you are my favorite grandchild.
  2. I don’t know why your parents allow you to do some of the things you do.
  3. Here, let me do it, I don’t want you to mess it up.
  4. If you would eat better and get more sleep you would be a much happier person.
  5. It’s nice of you to visit, but could you call first so I know you are coming?
  6. Why don’t you act more like your older (younger) brother (sister)?
  7. Maybe if you’d go to church more often, things would work out better for you.
  8. Don’t’ cry. That will only make things worse.
  9. I hope that you’re not getting too serious with (name of friend).
  10. When I was your age, I had a paper route, walked to school, and even got all “A”s!
  11. You can’t expect your parents or grandparents to support you the rest of your life.
  12. If you think times are tough now, just wait until you grow up.

We welcome your suggestions, additions, and reactions to these lists. Just send them to RBimler@lulife.org, and we’ll share the results in a future Rich and Charlie Resources.

And that is what’s brewing at St. Arbucks this month!

What’s Brewing – April 2017

“What we need at our church is a coffee house”, a recent customer at St. Arbucks remarked. “Or better yet, we could rent a place in town where young people can go and help us reach our community for the Lord!”

What a great idea to “reach our community for Christ”, but might it not even be better to realize that our neighborhoods already have a coffeehouse, and perhaps we should just go there and share our faith and joy in the Lord! Yes, that is why we call it “St. Arbucks”! It seems to us that the Lord is already providing us with so many places and opportunities to share our faith, instead of only focusing on getting people to that building called “the Church” on Sunday morning. Remember the old saying, “To think that you are a Christian just because you are sitting a church building is to think that you are an automobile just because you are standing in a garage!”

These are some of the lively conversations around our St. Arbucks these days. Of course, being at a St. Arbucks does not make us “Christian” either, but it does provide us an excellent place to meet, to listen, to talk, and to share God’s love and forgiveness with people of all ages, who may or may not be frequenting a church building. It provides us with opportunities to BE the Church to people by sharing our faith, our listening ears, our counsel (when asked),and our own time and lives with others, who continue to look for a Jesus who they can follow, a “Jesus with skin on”, like you and me!

What a great way to start to make and build relationships with people who do not know the Lord. What a great way to also share our common faith with those at the coffee table who already know the Lord! By the way, it is interesting to see the growing number of St. Arbucks locations that are becoming the place where small groups of men, women, and young people are meeting to do their weekly Bible studies! What a great witness in itself!  Charlie and I even had to move from our “pew” at our St. Arbucks one morning because a group of Bible-studying men sat down next to us – and were loudly sharing their faith!

The corporate Starbucks company states in their “mission statement” that they want to be the third place where people connect, the other two being the Home and the Workplace. They continue to work very hard at making that mission a reality, now being in 75 countries, with 25,734 retail stores, and with over 300.000 people wearing their green aprons. In the U.S. itself, they plan to create 68,000 new jobs and 3400 new stores in the next 3 years. They are expanding their hiring of veterans, young people, and immigrants as well. Their stated focus is that “every day, we go to work hoping to serve great coffee with our friends and to help make the world a better place.”

So, let us certainly NOT begin or continue to worship Starbucks, but rather, let us see the St. Arbucks throughout the world as places where all of God’s people can meet, not just to enjoy coffee, but much more importantly,  places where you and I as God’s redeemed people can meet and greet people of all ages and faiths and lifestyles, in order to work at our goal to make, not Starbucks, but the Church, the third and best place for people to connect!

Blessings and joy, as together as the Church we go about establishing “Christian” coffeehouses throughout our communities, just by going there!  And while you are there, please order me a Grande Vanilla Latte, easy on the foam!

Rich Bimler

What’s Brewing – March 2017

The month of March seems to attract a few more early risers to St. Arbucks. That’s good for Rich and Charlie, since as long as we get there early enough to plop down into our usual “pew”, it allows us to listen and converse with more friends and soon-to-be Brewster Buddies.

The focus of our recent discussions has been on the Season of Lent – how do people observe Lent, do people still observe Lent, and why or why not?  In general, it appears that today’s society is not as connected or even concerned about this season called Lent as we have been in our pasts. In a recent study by LifeWay Research, here is what they discovered when they asked adults, age 30-75, throughout the country “How do you typically observe Lent?” :

…Give up a favorite food or drink – 57%

…Attend church more regularly – 57%

…Pray more – 39%

…Give to and serve others – 38%

…Fast from bad habits – 35%

…Fast from favorite activities – 23%

…None of these – 5%

The good news is that people are still observing Lent in some way. Worship, prayer, serving others, changing or modifying their behavior, are all positive in their own way. There is an awareness of sacrifice, giving up something that is a priority, and there also is a direct connection to one’s daily life and one’s faith life. It appears that a good number of folks still “give up” as well as “take up” special rituals and practices during the Lenten season.

What about you and me? What are we planning to do this Lenten Season? Take up, Give up, Fess up, Look up, Laugh it up? We here at St. Arbucks encourage others to think and pray about observing this season of the Church year as a time to reflect, react, repent, and respond to the Lord’s love and hope that we have in Him, and to take advantage of this season of Lent to continue to show and share His love to those around us, starting right now.

Let each of us encourage one another to continue to “Live it –Up!” knowing that the Lord of Lent is also the risen Christ of Easter! What a great time to live Lent as people of the Resurrection by serving and celebrating Christ with and to others, at St. Arbucks….or even (gulp!) at Dunkin-Donuts!

Rich Bimler