Monday, April 5, 2021
The old river birch tree in the backyard is gone now. We brought her home in our car many years ago. She grew big and tall and was a great shade for these many years. Unfortunately, she couldn’t withstand the recent ice storm and broke. She was cut down and hauled away by the folks who do that type of work. I miss her. Sitting beside her stump this spring, I can see the sap rising, pooling on the top of the stump and running down the bark into the ground. I can imagine she is wondering where all of her limbs have gone as she continues trying to nourish them with her sap. Life continues to be living even if the tree has been cut down and hauled away. Maybe that’s what Easter or First Fruits is about. Life continues.
Sunday, February 28, 2021
These past few months I have been ‘visiting’ many different churches, thanks to virtual or YouTube’s worship services and the requirement of not gathering because of COVID. I must confess that I like visiting various Churches of different denominations and experiencing their worship styles. This ‘visiting’ practice has greatly enlarged my sense of worship. I have never considered myself a great preacher or even a student of great preaching. Nevertheless, there is one thing that I have noticed in my recent worship wanderings. It is difficult to find sermons that have a primary focus on national, social, or cultural concerns or what I would call the peace and justice issues. Things like our anxieties of the gay and transgendered issue; cultural or systemic racial prejudices; our anxieties about the foreigner or immigration policies; etc. The sermons that I have found seem primarily focused with personal or individual issues such as: hope, peace, forgiveness, redemption, joy, etc. There is nothing wrong with these issues. Who does not want these qualities? However, these qualities are also related to our larger world; not just me, my family, and our well-being. We are connected to each other. When one of us is hurting, all of us are hurting. The answer to the Biblical question, “Am I my brother’s (and sister’s) keeper?”, is “Yes.” Unfortunately, I have not yet found much of this from my recent ‘worship wanderings.’ I think it may have been William Sloane Coffin, former Pastor of New York’s Riverside Church, who said that he would stop preaching about social issues when politicians stopped making laws that affected God’s children. I believe in the separation of Church and partisan politics but not a hard separation of Church and State because we are in this world together.
Saturday, February 6, 2021
I am also a right-to-life believer when I think of the environment. We are killing ourselves and each other when we ignore the destruction of the environment which holds life in a delicate balance created by God. We must respect that delicate balance and not destroy the environment for the gain of cheaper oil/gas and lumber so that greater profits can be made for the large companies and our stock market portfolio and/or so that we can drive very large, gas-guzzling automobiles and live-in larger houses. I am a right-to-life believer in that I do not support the death penalty. The government does not have the right to take a life any more than to think a government can create a life. I am a right-to-life believer as I believe every person needs a salary from honest work that permits them to have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which includes adequate food, clothing, and shelter. When large companies pay millions to their leaders who then say the company can only pay $11 per hour for those who help make them their millions, something is wrong and, I believe it is at right-to-life issue. My desire is that we are consistent when we use the phrase “right-to-life” and not make it a bumper sticker for only one issue, however important that one issue may be.
I believe in ‘right-to-life.’ I do not think abortions are to be used as birth control. Nevertheless, I do think that abortion is to be available to women and their families for those situations when to continue the pregnancy is a risk to the mother’s life; the fetus cannot live outside of the womb; the pregnancy is the result of rape and/or incest. I think such abortions are to be done in hospitals with Physician’s surgical assistance. I am a right-to-life believer if the mother chooses to carry to birth a child who is handicapped then the ‘government,’ and that means all of us, are to provide the necessary support, including financial, as that child and family develops.
Saturday, January 16, 2021
Gratefulness is the prescription for our disease of greed. Greed will attempt (tempt or temptation) to convince us that more is better. More money, clothes, vacations, etc. Greed will even tempt us to believe that reading more verses of scripture is better than reading a few with thoughtful, soulful prayer. Yes, greed even slips into our spiritual life. Our healing of greed will involve gratitude. Learning to be grateful for what we have will give us the gift of peace and contentment. This prescription sounds easy, except that greed will not go away easily or quickly. Greed will slip into our minds and actions so subtly that often we are not able to recognize the greed until we have succumbed to its temptation. Greed is never satisfied—it will motivate us to think that a little bit more is all that is necessary and then we will be satisfied. Practicing gratefulness on a daily, even hourly, basis will be a helpful spiritual discipline to discipline our temptations of greed. I encourage you to look at the YouTube video entitled, “Good Day,” by Brother David Steindl-Rast to learn more about gratefulness.-
Friday, January 1, 2021
We have had an unusual 2020 and pleased to see 2021 arrive. This COVID pandemic altered much of the way we do life. Judy and I wear masks and try to social distance. I taught at BSK via Zoom. I also retired from BSK after 18 years. I do about half of my counseling practice at the Center via Zoom or Skype. Due to a slip on the ice in February, I tore my left quad tendon which required surgery and physical therapy. In October I passed out and fell on my face giving myself a concussion along with stitches in my eyelid, lip, and chin. After numerous tests and Physicians’ visits, the cause of my passing out is still undetermined, which means more tests. I had a 79th birthday. Judy had cataract surgery and now sees without glasses. Her arthritis is a constant and unwelcome companion resulting in limited mobility. Our son returned from living 3 years in California bringing back with him a lady-friend and her two young-adult sons. He has also changed his work from Sam’s to Kroger’s (a large grocery chain) pharmacy. I pray that your life in 2021 will be healthy and meaningful. I do not believe in superstition, but just in case, we are having black-eyed peas today.
Sunday, December 27, 2020
We need to be very careful about comparing ourselves to others. We can always find someone who seems better off than we or worse off. Comparison has no end. Even the brillant Shakespeare knew the dangers of comparing one's self. Corin: And how like you this shepherd’s life, Master Touchstone? Touchstone: Truly, shepherd, in respect of itself, it is a good life; but in respect that it is a shepherd’s life, it is naught. In respect that it is solitary, I like it very well; but in respect that it is private, it is a very vile life. Now in respect it is in the fields, it pleaseth me well; but in respect it is not in the court, it is tedious. As it is a spare life, look you, it fits my humor well; but as there is no more plenty in it, it goes much against my stomach. Hast any philosophy in thee shepherd? William Shakespeare, As You Like It, act 3, scene 2.