Category Archives: What’s Brewing At St. Arbucks

What’s Brewing – July 2018


The sippers and snackers are a spirited band of saints at St. Arbucks these days! We continue to “solve” the world’s problems with sound logic and common sense. Now all we need do is to convince the rest of the world that we are right!!!

Our discussions recently have centered on marriage, since we have experienced a number of them these past months. Whether the vows are being shared in Chicago, Elkhart, Marco Island, or some other venue, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing – and that is that the Lord is right there with us, to bless, guide and strengthen our faith, family, and friends!

Remember the story about the little boy who heard in Sunday School one day how Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding? When asked what he learned from that story, he said, “If you’re having a wedding, make sure Jesus is there!” What a joy to always remember and remind others that Jesus is with us – not just to make sure that the wine flows, but to be there to strengthen us and work through us as we serve and celebrate our faith!

Our St. Arbuck’s  clan also affirmed how significant it is that both family and friends gather together for weddings to support, encourage, and affirm the bride and groom. Sure, the Lord is always with us. We know that where “two or three are gathered” there He is, in the midst of us! But what a joyful affirmation it is of the Lord’s love and support for the bride and groom when relatives and friends from near and far, make the effort to be there for this special celebration of love and commitment!

One of the scriptures shared at a recent wedding was I John 4:16-17: “We know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in him. In this way, God is made complete among us ….” This ties in so well with I Corinthians 13:13  – “Faith, hope, love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” What a wedding WOW to hear that love is the “greatest” of these because it is what husbands and wives (and all people) are gifted to give to each other as they daily serve and celebrate their faith. Faith has already been given to us in Christ. Hope is the Promise of God to us for eternal life. Love is the NOW of our faith which is unleashed in us to give and to share and to receive, in marriage, through family, and with all people!

The next time you are blessed to attend a wedding service, watch and listen for the Wedding VOWS and then watch and pray that all wedding VOWs continue to turn into wedding WOWS, in and through the new couple as well as in and through the family and friends gathered around them!

And one more WOW shared at St. Arbucks this day: LOVE in marriage can be summarized in this way:

L – LAUGH – at ourselves; and with, not at, each other;

O –  OOPS – practice and learn to say “oops” as often as possible – to say “I am sorry, please forgive me”;

V – VOICE –Listen to each other, in love. Listen to the Lord as He leads and calls you; listen to family and friends who are around you to guide and direct you; and

 E – ENCOURAGE – Even though the world often says “do unto others before they do unto you”, encourage one another as the Lord encourages you!

Yes, Weddings Vows are lived out through wedding WOWS, in the Lord! May married couples, as well as all people, continue to live in love with their theme being, “One for the other – Both for Christ”! Now that’s what I call a Wedding Wow!

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

Rich Bimler

What’s Brewing – June 2018



Yes, it is true! And you read it here first! The St. Arbucks’ crew has become all excited about a new product that is being unveiled this week throughout the country that will revolutionize the world of communications. No more need for an I-phone, an I-pad, snap chat, face-time, texting, tweeting, or even a Smart (or average-intelligence) phone. This very inexpensive but highly valued new “gadget” is called “talking to each other”!

Perhaps I am over-stating a bit of my frustration and concern about the current trend in how we communicate with each other. And it is not just the younger folks. It is people of all ages. Check out the latest statistics, from the Pew Foundation:  

73% of adults over 65 use the internet or e-mail;

54% of internet users over 65 use social networking sites such as Facebook and 28% do on a typical day;

72% of adults over 65 own a mobile phone;

59% of adults over 76 own a cell phone of some kind.

And on and on!

The point is not that these new communication tools are bad and should be discarded. The problem is rather that our society seems to be relying too heavily on these gadgets. Have you ever tried to have a real conversation with a grandchild who is immersed in her Smart phone as she texts away with someone in the other room? Have you almost been run over on a sidewalk as another pedestrian moves into your space, looking downward attempting to respond to a recent beep from his know-it-all phone?

In some ways we are more connected than ever before in history. In other ways we seem to be spiraling into epidemic levels of loneliness. Joshua Banner, in the Cresset magazine, puts it this way: “Mobile technology promises us the ability to be everywhere and seemingly to be in control of everything. In truth, these devices cause us to be nowhere and in control of very little”. Stated another way, we are becoming masters of “the elsewhere self”.

But, rejoice, Facebook lovers, there is good news! It is called “talking to each other”! Why not begin today and actually take the time to converse verbally with someone close to you?  Go visit your neighbor, and use words! Actually talk to the person in front of you in the shopping line. Greet the mailman with a cheerful, “How are you?” Even if we older adults use more four-letter words, great – as long as they are words like What or When or Oops!

I do not know about you, but I see the Lord best in other people. But how will I ever know if they might possibly see a spark of hope and joy and love in me if I never get out of the car or the house or from behind the computer to let them see for themselves?

Sure, as Martha Graham says, “Misery can be a communicable disease”, but it does not have to be! Share your ups and downs by talking to each other!

Join me in helping to re-invent the Art of Talking! No instructions needed ! Open mouth, focus on a person, and start ….talking! Do not worry about the results. The Lord will enable and empower you and me to be in ministry-range of others as we rub shoulders and share words of love and joy and peace with those people who He has lovingly placed around us.

Altogether now …..1,2,3 ….Talk, and Listen!  Wow, what a product!  Let us pray it catches on!

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

 Rich Bimler

What’s Brewing – May 2018


Congrats to all of us older adults! This is OUR month to serve and celebrate as the U.S. recognizes aging as a gift to celebrate rather than a burden to bear!  Isn’t it nice of “them” to designate at least one month to recognize us as being significant ?! Our task, however, continues to be enabling and empowering people of all ages to celebrate aging as a gift from the Lord of ALL ages – and on each and every day and month!

In fact, the theme for this Month’s Celebration of aging is “Engage at Every Age!” Very appropriate, don’t you think? I trust that you too are seeing more and more articles, videos, presentations, and that you are hearing more people in your home, church, and community discussing the issue of “aging” with others. It’s a positive sign that we older adults are becoming more of a topic of discussion and are being taken more seriously by people of all ages. There also are more books being written about and for older adults. Check out your favorite bookstore and see what others are saying and reading. By the way, if you’ve read any of these – “The End of Old Age”(thanks Dick Koehneke), “Aging Thoughtfully,” “Disrupt Aging”, and “Vesper Time” (Thanks, Tim Hartner), let me know your reactions.

Here are some further discussion quotes and notes being heard around the St. Arbucks’ tables these days. We really can learn a lot from each other, if we just listen to what is being said!

  1. Ashton Applewhite, speaker/author says it well: “The underlying message of growing old is to lose value as a human being, which is a pretty terrible thing to grow up being! This can damage a person’s ego and future. If we don’t stop and challenge these ideas, they become parts of our identity.”
  2. Another quote heard recently, “The goal is health, not youth; the enemy is disease, not aging”.
  3. How about this one: “No need to search for the ‘Fountain of Youth”. Better to seek out the “Fountain of USE-full ness!
  4. A stinger: “Gains in longevity have occurred, not because of personal choices but because of public sanitation, clean water, and control of infectious diseases.” 
  5. A new term popping up in older adult culture is the concept of “age-friendly churches”! How is your congregation doing? How would you rate your parish in terms of priorities and focus? Who is responsible for older adult ministries in your congregation? If you do not know the answer, what can you do to at least have people start asking the question?
  6. ”Ageism stems for the perception that older people are irrelevant.”
  7. ”There is a devastating mindset among many that “the old” are a burden “the young” must carry.” Neither “youth” nor “older adults” are the problem, but they both are the solution!”
  8. ”We basically discriminate against our future selves!”
  9. It is a positive sign that the term, “anti-aging”, is being dropped by AARP as well as other organizations.”
  10. Let us keep “Aging out Loud” with people of all ages. Jeff Greenberg, New Yorker magazine, November, 2017, says it this way: “Why Ageism Never Gets Old -How to Deal with Aging”: 1) Have the elderly live among and with the younger; 2) Bolster self-esteem throughout the culture to diminish the terror of aging; and 3) calmly accept our inevitable death.

Romans 14:8 is a great way to close our St. Arbucks’s discussion: “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord”!

And that’s what’s brewing at St. Arbucks these days!

Rich Bimler

What’s Brewing – April 2018


St. Arbucks is alive with laughter, giggles, and humor these days as we gather together to enjoy laughing WITH each other and helping people to not take themselves tooooo seriously!  What a gift we have in Laughter! We remind each other of the three emphases:

  1. “And God said, “Lighten Up!” He also said, “I am the Light” of the world, which makes us “lights” also!
  2. Laugh AT yourself first!
  3. Give other people permission to laugh!

As one of our joy-filled friends likes to say, “If you love Jesus, why don’t you tell your face about it!” Sounds a little law-oriented, but it does help us to remember Psalm 126:3 –“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with JOY!”

The St. Arbuck’s gang has developed a “test” to help each other to focus on the gift of laughter. We are happy to share it with you ….and you have our permission to add to it and take from it, as long as it helps people younger and older to laugh more and sulk less! Here are some of the benefits of laughter, in addition to the powerful fact that laughter reminds us that the Lord continues to love and forgive us, regardless of how we look, act, or feel.  Sure, “The Lord loves a cheerful giver”, but He also loves us grouches!

   A Quiz, (with answers) on the Benefits of Laughter

  1. Why does it make you feel good to laugh? Medical folks claim that laughter releases certain brain chemicals, like endorphins and dopamine, to create these positive feelings and actions.
  2. Socially, we use laughter to show others we like them. We are 30 times more likely to laugh when we are with others than when we are alone.
  3. How many calories can 10-15 minutes of laughter burn? Studies show that we burn 40 calories in the process. So, if we laugh 15 minutes a day, we will lose 4 lbs. a year! And that’s without even going to the gym!
  4. How does laughter help our heart? It helps our blood to flow more freely and relaxes our arteries. Sounds healthy to me!
  5. How does laughing help to ease pain? It releases endorphins which is especially helpful to older adults with chronic pain. No, we cannot “laugh our pain away” totally, but it sure will help our well being in the process.
  6. Laughter is helpful to mental health issues. It lowers stress and helps fight depression. I recall one friend’s quote, “I do not have stress – but I am a carrier!”
  7. Laughter is contagious. We have a built-in “laugh detector”. Once we begin to laugh, our “laughter generator” is tripped and we develop the giggles. And then, watch out world– here we come!
  8. Babys’ first giggles that bonds them with their families are generated through smiles, laughter, and tickling, as they learn by watching and responding.
  9. Our early ancestors laughed before they could talk. It is how they communicated and found out who was a friend or foe. Laughter was used as a “sigh of relief” after dangerous situations. Recall the importance of laughter in meetings and other events, especially when tough and heavy-duty topics are being debated.
  10. Free one: Who is the medical doctor who uses humor as medicine? Patch Adams is his name, and he continues to practice his skills at enabling people to laugh their way to being healthy and happy people, in the Lord!

“Happy Laughing” to each of us as we continue to celebrate God’s gift of laughter with and to those who he has placed around us.  When we think of keeping healthy in the Lord, remember the doctor who quips, “Open wide …and say “AH-HA!”

Dr. Rich Bimler

Ambassador of Health, Hope, and Aging (AH-HA!)

What’s Brewing – March 2018

BREAKING NEWS ………A recent study from Germany confirms that drinking beer and coffee regularly increases one’s life span! When this astounding news was shared at our Saturday morning confab, it naturally got the attention of the baristas and regular customers at St. Arbucks!  I also know that it will make my brother very happy as well!

Now that we have your attention, we want to share some conversations, ideas, quotes, and general observations we are experiencing at our local St. Arbucks. We really can learn more by listening to people than by simply talking at one another!

One of our coffee-loving friends shared some scripture with us which he claims provides one way for older adults to deal with younger people. We are sure that he does not understand the text appropriately, but it was cause for some further discussion, as well as laughter.  He read 2 Kings 2:23-25: “From there Eisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. “Go on up, you bald head”, they said….He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths…..”

Now we are certainly not promoting this kind of “relationship building” between the younger and the older, and we have encouraged our friend to do a study of this text to see it in the appropriate context. It did, however, raise the issue of how the younger and the older are relating with each other, at home, in church, and in the community. Perhaps we older ones do wish at times that the younger ones would “disappear”, or “keep in their place”, or “not be so noisy”. Perhaps we at times feel discouraged when we older folks are perceived by the younger as being a “problem”, “out-of-step”, or just old “fuddy-duddies”.  I still bristle when someone demeans an older adult through a joke that pokes fun at an older person or when younger people assume that we older ones are all set it our ways and are just “living in the past”.

So, what are we going to do about it? I say, first, let’s do continue to drink our beer and coffee (in moderation, of course!) and be pro-active in spending time with and listening to those young people around us. Why not invite one or two of them to join you at a St. Arbucks (yes, forget about the beer this time!)? Why not seek out a teenager after worship next week and actually get to know him or her a little better by asking how they are doing? Why not spend some time with a grandchild or young neighbor to get their take on their world? Perhaps if we were more intentional about connecting with young people, we wouldn’t have to think about finding some bears in the woods to solve the issue, and we might even find out that these young people will enrich and enhance our lives so much that we will not even have to think about drinking beer or even coffee the rest of our lives!

I am so blessed when I listen to my grandkids. Sarah, college student, sent me a text recently and shared her perception that our society loves “aged cheese” and “aged wine” but has difficulty accepting “aged” people?  She asked why is it that many aging and vintage items in our world are seen as positive and valuable while aging people are often seen as “problems”! Thanks, Sarah, for that insight! Let’s get together and talk more about it!

So, let’s continue to drink our beer and sip our coffee, but even more importantly, let’s continue to keep in “ministry range” of younger people, as we continue to celebrate God’s gift of aging!

And let’s also make sure we understand the context and meaning of 2 Kings 2:23-25!

Rich Bimler

What’s Brewing – February 2018

What’s new in Rich and Charlie’s St. Arbuck’s world is actually very old if Acts 2:17 and Joel 2:28 are to be trusted: old men and women dream dreams and young men and women see visions.  If it was true in days of yore, is it true today?  Have you had any life changing dreams lately?  Or visions? Or neither?  Or both?

It took me a long time to get a handle on that Joel/Acts dream/vision language.  In my experience dreams are based on past experiences.  It’s hard to dream about what you’ve never done.  Visions refer to brand new stuff, previously unknown to others, maybe even to yourself.  Think about it.  Isn’t that how change happens?  The old work at keeping one of yesterday’s dream alive while the young “see” what has never been before and strike out for the unknown.  Wow.  That’s scary – as history demonstrates again and again!  But where there is no vision there is no hope.

I got onto this dream-vision kick after reading a book recently published by Valparaiso University Press.  Written by Richard Baepler it is entitled, “Keeper of the Dream: O.P. Kretzmann”.  It’s a good book full of Lutheran history in general and that of the LCMS in particular.  Baepler could have just as easily entitled the book, “Keeper of the Vision: O.P. Kretzmann”.   Doesn’t it work both ways?  As I read the book it seems to me that it did with O.P. in his Valpo days.  He always seemed to be one visionary jump ahead of the change in his world that was developing in matters institutional, social, theological and political.  All his life he worked at bridging the chasm between those who were ready for the authentic change and the new day that was developing all around and those who were dug in, determined to stick with the old ways and resist change no matter what.

To show what kind of man he was instead of wringing his hands over what WWII was doing to Valpo’s student body he worked hard at building a new kind of “Lutheran” college that was mostly female.  Or when taller men were classified 4F in those days because of their height Valpo floored the first college basketball team in the USA all of whom were over six feet.  He encouraged a Valpo base for the Lutheran Human Relations Association when most of our congregations were lily white.  Valpo initiated a program for training congregation based youth workers.  It was in the forefront of liturgical renewal in Lutheranism.  There’s lots more.  Is this enough of a teaser to make you want to read this book about that remarkable man and what he did in his life?

As for me and many of my peers the story of O.P. and Valpo is the story of our life.  We were coming of age on parallel tracks of social, political and institutional change in our LCMS world much of which are still in process.   As Yogi would put it, reading this book was de ja vous all over again for me.  As far as dreamers are concerned it is a report of their world that was.  For fellow visionaries it is a Triptik for what lies ahead. 

How better to wrap this R and C St. Arbuck’s report than in words of Roy Rogers one of yesterday’s heroes: “Happy trails to you.”  Or better yet, dreamer or visionary, “Vaya con Dios.”


What’s Brewing – January 2018

                                                WHAT TO BRING TO 2018!

It’s been VERY cold for Chicago folks these past few days, so what better way to warm up than to visit with some friendly folks at St. Arbucks in the early morning! The topic that developed naturally as we move into the brand New Year of 2018 was “What can I bring to 2018?” Listen in as we discuss, nudge, engage, laugh, and perhaps even change our minds as we share ideas, inspirations, and hopes. Here is a listing of 18 quotes and concepts discussed. Listen closely and perhaps you can even hear the background music playing, “Have a jolly, jolly, java!” Someone just mentioned that it is SO cold here that they just saw a family eating ice cream just to keep warm!………And now on to the thoughts to consider for  2018:

1.“How can we continue to grow older – with no apologies? We need to move from denying aging to accepting it, and even embracing and celebrating it!”

2.“Wouldn’t it be great if each of us would work on saying “Yes” much more than “No” during 2018?

3.”Laugh more at yourself than at others. It would sure make this a happier world!”

4.“Listen and watch how younger people respond to, converse with, and relate to older people around them. Help all ages to do the same so that we can learn from each other.”

5.”Discuss and listen more to people rather than argue and demand, especially in terms of the current political climate in our country, and our Church”.

6.”Do everything in moderation – including moderation!” (Some of us are still trying to figure out this one!)

7.”Consider that every thought is a seed. If we plant crab apples, we can’t count on harvesting golden delicious.”

8.”Keep the focus on the Promise of the Lord, rather than on the Problems of the world. That’s the only way to help solve the problems of the world!”

9.”We get in trouble when we choose the wrong enemy.”

10.”Faith in Christ always defeats Fear in failure!”

11.“Be perfectly imperfect!”

12.“A common sense of civility and respect is lacking greatly in the current climate and conversations of our national leaders.”

13.“Remember the two buttons that read – “Maybe you are right; maybe I am wrong.”? Perhaps we should print and wear them again!

14.“Leave a little glitter wherever you go.”

15.”We don’t see things the way they are – we see things the way we are.”

16.“In God’s Kingdom, everyone matters!”

17.“In our daily lives together, never forget that we are all just walking each other home.”

And to close off our hopes and dreams for the New Year of 2018, and since St. Arbucks is urging us to leave soon anyway, what better way to sum it up with the Word of the Lord from Micah 6:8 –

18.”What does the Lord require of us but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8) 

Blessed 2018, from all of us here at St. Arbucks!

Rich Bimler



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


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?


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