Introducing …

You all know the old saying about March – “In like a lion, out like a seven pound, 15 ounce bouncing baby boy.”  Well, I don’t know if that adage has ever been more true than it was this year, as the Rempe family welcomed Matthew Ronald Rempe to the team early in the morning on March 28.

As one might expect from a Rempe, Matthew’s arrival was not exactly conventional.

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Lessons from a Children’s Sermon

childrens-sermonLutheran worship is a very structured and orderly thing.  There are moments to stand, kneel, or sit, all of which are specifically laid out in the worship bulletin.  We have elements like the kyrie, the gloria in excelsis, and the nunc dimittis in our services, and while we might not know exactly how those words translate into English, we probably have the lyrics memorized, and can sing them with multiple harmonies.  Vestments and paraments are color coded to match the liturgical calendar, and the readings for any given Sunday are determined years in advance.   We can easily pick out visitors during the responsive readings, as they have yet to master the “Lutheran cadence” that can only be developed after years of attendance.

Now, I love the Lutheran liturgy.  There is something very cool about using the same words in the same order along with other Christians around the world and through the centuries.  The fact that the very structure of the service, and not just the homily, proclaims the Gospel is something that I have grown to appreciate more and more with each passing year.

That said, a little chaos now and then is good for the soul.  Perhaps this is why I so enjoy the Sundays where we have a children’s sermon in the middle of the service.  It’s five minutes of pure improv in the midst of a tightly wound, highly organized program.

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Goldilocks and the Laws of Thermodynamics

Part of our family’s regular nighttime routine is to gather in our daughter’s bedroom and read a couple of stories before putting the kids down for the night.  Each kid gets to pick one (hopefully short) book to read, followed by a Bible story.  Then, it is off to Sleepy Land, usually with some really schmaltzy kids’ CD serving as a soundtrack.  (I tried once to put Grace to bed to the collected works of Charles Mingus, but she woke up the next morning wearing a beret and asking if I had any cigarettes, so I put the kibosh on that.)

One of the books that regularly makes it into the rotation is Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  Now, I must admit that there are a number of things about this book that have always bothered me.*  First, what the heck is a little girl doing roaming a bear-infested woods by herself?  And what’s the deal with her just barging into the bears’ domicile without the appropriate welcome and making herself at home with their furniture and food?  Does she have no parents, or just very poor ones?  Or is this some kind of socialistic fairy tale where Goldilocks is representative of the proletariat, seeking the redistribution of the Bourgeois Bears’ ill-gotten commodities.  (In true Dave Barry fashion, I must point out at this juncture that “Bourgeois Bears” would be a great name for a rock band.)

Yes, all those points are disturbing, but there is something else—something vague and undefined—that always seemed to scrape uncomfortably against my subconscious.  Then, as I began reciting the story for the umpteenth time, it dawned on me what it was that was so irritating.

When the bears leave the house that ill-fated morning, they do so after having prepared three bowls of porridge—a large bowl for the similarly-proportioned Papa Bear, a middle-sized bowl for the Mama Bear, and wee little bowl for the offspring of these two.  When Goldilocks happens upon the Bears’ cottage, she notes that the large bowl of porridge is “tooooo hot.”  She then comments that the middle sized bowl is “tooooo cold.”  Finally, she finds Baby Bear’s bowl to be to her liking, and consumes it.

Obviously, this flies in the face of all we know from modern science about temperature transferal.  If one assumes that the porridge was served from a common source (and seriously, what Mama Bear would make an entirely separate pot of porridge for each family member?), then we can say that at the time of egress, each bowl of porridge was at roughly the same temperature.

Now, the story’s protagonist arrives.  The largest bowl, we are told, remains too hot to eat.  Based on this information, one could surmise that the next bowl in descending size would be somewhat cooler than the larger bowl, with the smallest bowl being the coolest of the three.  But no.  Somehow, the middle bowl is now the coolest of the three, with the smallest one being the optimal, median temperature.  This simply cannot be.

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