Back to Normal

It is chilly outside this morning.

While thermometers say it is 9 degrees outside, the real feel temperature is -8.

That’s cold.

Here in Northern New Jersey, we received anywhere from 5 to 9 inches of snow during Thursday’s nor’easter that walloped a large chunk of the northeast. But we remember the people of the area in and around Boston where high tides washed seawater onto the streets that froze. Cars are encased in feet of ice and the more than the foot of snow that fell. And with the frigid weather pounding the region today, it isn’t melting anytime soon.

It is going to be a miserable time up in Massachusetts for the next couple of days.

Around here, we’ve cleaned up pretty well. Streets are drivable, many of the main roads are down to blacktop. Side streets are mostly a mix of icy blacktop and snow. Schools here in New Milford are open but are under a 2-hour delay. Life is getting back to normal quickly, though I think our supermarkets are going to be a little low on bread and milk following Wednesday’s onslaught of people rushing to stock up before the storm.

For us at St. Matthew’s in New Milford, it means that our regular schedule is back on track. This schedule includes Saturday morning’s “undecorating” of the church beginning at 10:00 AM.

Yeah, it is going to be a cold weekend. Dress warmly. See you Saturday morning at church.

Canceling a Funeral in a Snowstorm

For the first time in my ministry, I had to cancel a scheduled funeral because of bad weather. We are under a Winter Storm Warning for my area of northern New Jersey, expecting anywhere from 4 to 8 inches of snow coupled with winds in excess of 30 miles per hour. These blizzard-like conditions are making it very hazardous to drive.

Not that I didn’t attempt to drive to the funeral, scheduled in Garfield, New Jersey at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. The roads in New Milford are typically horrific – the locals get to cleaning things up as the storm winds down and they do a great job. However, at the start of a storm, our local workers don’t do much to make the roads passable. Driving down River Road to Route 4 was slow and slippery. Adding to the bad driving conditions is the belief I have the worst tires in the history of the automotive industry. I slipped more than I care to admit.

But it was when I got onto Route 4 when my heart was in my throat. The westbound lanes were treacherous and snow covered. The plows seemingly didn’t touch this side of the Route 4; eastbound at least had tire lanes that were down to the blacktop. This makes sense because more people head off to New York City to work and the eastbound lanes need to be at least treated once or twice.

Driving slowly westbound, I was sliding all over the place. But it was the two times when the rear of my car decided it wanted to be the front of my car and spun that I decided to stop and return home. The back roads of Paramus and Oradell were not great, but it was drivable. Of course, when I drove down Oradell Avenue and turned onto Boulevard in New Milford is where the untreated roads greeted me with slipping tires.

Sitting now in the home office, my heart beating normally after pounding really hard after spinning around on Route 4, I can relax and get some office work done.

The funeral was pushed off until tomorrow at 10:00 AM.

(The photo above is of the Gapstow Bridge in Central Park during winter.)

Common-sense Ten Commandments

If we pray the Ten Commandments each night before going to bed, then we’d see their actual importance for our lives. When we recognize our failures in each of the commands of God to the Israelites, we see ourselves as sinners who are not only are in need of forgiveness, but also of guidance to be better people.

In this morning’s Your View section of the Editorial page, a writer from Paramus states that as we enter the New Year, we all pray and hope that the world will become a better place. I don’t think many people say to themselves, “You know, I want this new year to be miserable for everyone.” Most of us do hope that the coming year is better for us as individuals, but also for others.

We all want our hopes to overcome the sadness.

The letter writer gets it.

The Ten Commandments are an authoritative guide to our everyday behavior.

In my sermons recently, I’ve preached on the importance of living one’s faith, expressing the love of God in words and deeds. See, the center of the Christian heart is on the confession of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit and what it means for us individually. When we confess God in words and deeds, we are saying something about what God has done for us – saving us from the eternity away from Him and creating in us a new person each day where we love God above all things and love one another without condition.

The Ten Commandments stress these points out clearly. In the first three commandments, we are shown the importance of putting God above everything, of respecting and loving HIm like He has loved us, of receiving Him and responding to His love as we worship Him. When God is at the center of our lives, we are different. We hold onto God’s grace and love and mercy and announce it to others. No matter our lots in life, we trust God through everything.

The remaining commandments show us the same point of the first three: We are to love and respect all people. Of course, the hard part is doing it because there are way too many people who get on our nerves. God wants us to be His agents of love and mercy and grace in this world. The specific commandments show us how we are kind and merciful and gracious and loving to others.

As the letter writer wrote, the world would be a better place if we all tried to follow the commandments.

They’re Not Resolutions

In earlier December, I started an informal list of ‘things’ I want to do to improve both my professional and personal life. While not classifying them as “New Year’s Resolutions,” they are more like resolutions that I care to admit. January 1st resolutions are really meant to be broken because when your resolution is to lose weight, you really shouldn’t gorge yourself on doughnuts eight hours into the new year.

In the middle of summer of 2017, I made the decision to declutter my life by getting rid of all those material things that I hadn’t used in a while. Honestly, I spent more days at the recycling center/dump dropping stuff off I think the guys there are going to name the place after me. Yet with all the elimination of “stuff” in an effort to declutter my life, there is still plenty to do. And the process continues until my stuff problem is normalized.

That is what prompted me to start my December list. It includes so many little odds and ends ideas that I wonder why in the world hadn’t I already accomplished those tasks?

For example, I want to make my internet life safer by utilizing a password manager. My password list is so long, I end up changing passwords a lot of the time because I just can’t remember the current password to a whole range of websites. Also, I wanted to make my  “passwording” stronger. I sometimes use the same password for similar websites. That’s a no-no, but I did it because it was easier to remember those passwords for say news sites.

By using a password manager, I could update all of my passwords with much stronger combinations and have them available through a web browser or sharing sheet on my phone that is “password” protected by my face (I have the iPhone X).

This morning at 3:45 AM, I started using a password manager and began what will be a laborious process of changing passwords and adding all those website accounts to the program. It won’t be completed overnight, but the move has begun. Continue reading “They’re Not Resolutions”